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Surf's Up! It's a Great Day for a (Pretend) Trip to the Beach!

kids at the beach

Landlocked but wish you could be at the shore? We’ve got the next best thing: Make a splash by putting the beach smack dab in the middle of your living room floor! A simple blue blanket transforms into water, setting a serene scene where swimsuits are a must and (stuffed) sharks are totally welcome. There’s even sand—inside

Possible Props for Pretending

beach gear

  • Inflatable floaties
  • Blue blanket, large towel, or piece of fabric
  • Beach pail and shovel
  • Swimming gear like goggles, flippers, or snorkels
  • Toy boats and other favorite water toys
  • Assorted beach/pool accessories or toys, such as swimsuits, sundresses, sunglasses, faux flower leis, toy buoys, kid-size beach chairs, and a ukulele


Start by spreading out a large blue blanket, beach towel, or piece of fabric on a wide open space of floor. Next, gather any and all of your beachy, summery, water-play items—and simply let the kiddos dive in.

We’ve suggested the props above for inspiration, but really any water or beach toys that you have on hand (bongos, umbrellas, shells, pirate gear, etc.) will work just great. No matter what props you have, there’s no wrong way for your child to enjoy her pretend day by the water. One child might flop on her belly and pretend she’s an adventurous mermaid, while another might enjoy playing with buckets or stomping around in flippers. However he plays, your little beach bunny will have a blast when his imagination sets sail.

Easy Add-On Ideas

playing with sand

Bring the sand inside (intentionally). Yes, we know that sand in your house sounds crazy, but hear us out—easy-to-clean-up Kinetic Sand isn’t like the stuff you track home from an actual beach (and keep finding in towels, shoes, and bags for weeks afterward). Kinetic Sand is more of a squishy, squeezable sand dough. It sticks to itself—which makes cleaning up a breeze—and your child will love packing it into buckets and sand molds, or shoveling up big scoops and watching it flow like a slow-moving liquid.

Set sail! Place a large cardboard box or laundry basket in the middle of everything and voilà—you have a sturdy boat to motor around. Kick back in your boat and read some books together about critters that live in the sea or the folks who sail on it.

Plan a picnic. For a finishing touch that kids always love, have a picnic lunch on the floor—keep it super simple or get festive with these easy (and delicious) Pinwheel Roll-Ups. It’s the perfect fuel for a crab-walking contest!

Learning we love: Did you know that there’s more to dramatic play than just fun and games? Pretend play also helps children develop essential social and emotional skills, like taking turns and problem solving.

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