Looking for new ways to help children learn can be difficult when you’re doing the same thing day-in, day-out.
But stepping outside and visiting your local beach with the little ones in tow can help provide them with new experiences and give them a complete sense of freedom.
Escape your usual nursery setting and embrace a new way of learning at the beach with our guide to outdoor learning.
Read on to reveal our lesson plans for beaches in Wales. Download the beach lesson plan posters for free to go on the wall in your setting.
What are the benefits of learning outdoors?
The Practical Forest School recently carried out a survey that found 99% of people agreed that learning outdoors has a positive effect on emotional wellbeing, and helps children develop social skills.
It just goes to show how learning outdoors can have a big impact on every aspect of a child’s life, not just their academic achievements.
Learning outdoors allows them to break free of the classroom and develop their imagination in new environments. Embracing the nature around them as they sharpen their problem-solving skills, and teamwork abilities, learning at the beach can enhance a child’s nursery experience.
According to government statistics, 85% of children and young people said that being in nature made them very happy. Combining this happiness and freedom with learning can help them to absorb new knowledge and create precious memories with their fellow classmates.
What skills can children learn?
While they’re learning outdoors, children can pick up new skills, and enhance existing ones.
With a different environment to thrive in, their creativity can flourish, as they use new materials for artistic activities.
It can help little ones to become more confident by taking them outside their comfort zone and introducing them to new surroundings.
Being at the beach can also encourage children to care about the environment around them too, building a new generation of sustainably-minded individuals.
What type of activities can children participate in at the beach?
The beauty of the beach is that it gives you plenty of options for activities, beyond the usual nursery environment.
Building sandcastles at the beach has become a much-treasured childhood memory for people across the UK. And the magic of sand is that you can build amazing fortresses, knock them down, and start again. This sort of activity can encourage teamwork or independence, depending on how you decide to structure a lesson.
Children can also collect different shells and study their textures or visit rock pools to discover the creatures that live within. Pebbles offer a blank canvas to create a mini masterpiece, while the coastal wind makes the beach an ideal spot for kite flying.
9 Welsh beach lesson ideas
We’ve rounded up our favourite 9 beaches for learning in Wales, to help inspire some ideas for your nursery group for their next outdoor learning experience. But we want to know about your hidden treasures! Contact us to tell us your favourite ways to learn with the little ones on your local beach and we’ll fill this page with community ideas, tips and activities.
#1. Our favourite beach for spotting wildlife – Freshwater East
Surrounded by natural dunes and wetlands, a visit to the gorgeous Freshwater East is a chance for children to discover plenty of birds, insects, and plants.
Start the day by exploring the beach before heading into the nature reserve behind – ‘The Burrows’ – and see how many things they can tick off their checklist along the way.
Can they spot:
- A heron
- A linnet
- Sea gooseberries
Pack a picnic for the adventure or visit one of the local cafés for some lunch before you head back to nursery.
#2. Our favourite beach for rock pooling – Barry Island
Nets at the ready, it’s time to explore some rock pools at Barry Island.
Towards the edges of the beach, you’ll find rock pools containing tiny crabs, beautiful shells, and maybe even a starfish.
Take care if you’re clambering on the rocks and remember to put anything you catch back into its natural habitat.
The prom is close by for easy access to toilets and refreshments, and transport links are good if you’re travelling via public transport too.
Round off the day with an ice cream from one of the beachfront cafés.
#3. Our favourite beach for treasure hunts – Whitesands, Pembrokeshire
A gorgeous blue sea laps up to the beach at Whitesands, Pembrokeshire.
The expanse of golden sand is the perfect setting for a treasure hunt, where the little ones can collect all the things on their list.
Your adventurous pirates will be on the hunt for:
They might also come across the remains of a church in the sand dunes and an ancient forest that appears when the tide is out.
#4. Our favourite beach for flying kites – Tenby South Beach
Away from the beautiful pastel-coloured town of Tenby lies a gorgeous sandy beach, just waiting to be enjoyed.
Little ones can decorate their own kites at nursery, and see it fly metres above their heads in the glorious West Walian sunshine.
Watching their unique patterns shining down on them is a memory to behold for years to come.
There are toilets nearby, and an ice cream van to tuck into treats afterwards.
#5. Our favourite beach for exploring caves – Llangrannog Beach
Nestled between two cliffs is the exquisite Llangrannog Beach.
Head to the eastern side, and you’ll find smugglers caves to duck into. The children can hear their voices echoing off the walls, and feel the cool rocks around them, as they venture further inside.
You might even spot a seal or two on your adventures. Just be careful not to disturb them or get too close, especially if there are baby seals around.
As the cove is situated next to the village, you’ll have ample options for toilet breaks and refreshments.
#6. Our favourite beach for sandcastles – Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Barafundle Bay offers a beautiful setting for an outdoor class. The crystal-clear sea stretches into the distance – a panorama for little ones and adults alike to marvel at.
Ideal for small groups, the adventure starts as soon as you arrive, as you’ll need to walk along expansive cliffs to find the beach, set among gorgeous sandy dunes.
When you get there, there’s plenty of golden sand to get stuck into to build marvellous sandcastles. The children can even bring along their favourite toy to build a castle for.
There are toilets and refreshments available at Stackpole Quay near the car park, before you set off.
#7. Our favourite for beach collecting shells – Port Eynon, Gower
One of Swansea’s most popular beaches, Port Eynon is the ideal spot for finding shells.
Grab a few buckets and let the little ones explore, collecting different shells to investigate. This sort of activity can give children a more sensory experience, as they can feel the different textures of the shells and look at the unique details of each one.
They can even take some back to the nursery to trace over the patterns and create some pretty pictures for their parents or guardians.
#8. Our favourite beach for writing in the sand – Pendine Sands
If you’re getting children familiar with writing their names, learning numbers, or creating patterns, Pendine Sands is the best place to practice.
Due to the temporary nature of the sand, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes they make – they can brush it off and start again.
The seven mile stretch of sand here means there’s plenty of room for everyone to get stuck in, and the beach is predominantly flat so it’s easier to access.
What a way to learn your ABC’s!
#9. Our favourite beach for splashing in the shallows – Abersoch, Llyn Peninsula
Swap the water tray for the real deal at Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula.
This village beach, backed by colourful beach huts, makes it a charming spot for children to splash in the shallows, and even go crabbing.
There are no severe currents here, according to VisitWales, so it should be a safe environment for little toes to step into the waves and feel the tide lapping at their ankles.
For children who have never been in the sea, this can be a hugely memorable experience, where they can learn about the ocean and all the wonder that it holds.
A lesson on the beach is certainly a treat for the senses.