How to Put Together a FULLY AWESOME Sandcastle Kit on a Budget

What is educational about sandcastles?
Beyond the fact that it is connecting with nature and engaging the senses, I love to use building a sandcastle as a chance to review medieval history. While building our sandcastles, we talk about the structures and their purposes such as the arrowslits, moat, and towers. Plus, working together on a larger shared plan is great for practicing cooperation and compromising.

When you get a group of homeschoolers together to build sandcastles, you want to do it up big, to give them a lot to work with and a good conversation starter about castles.

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That said, I wanted something compact and travel friendly. When we have a beach day, we aren’t the type to take everything but the kitchen sink. We like to pack light. So I wanted something that would be easy to grab and go. Nothing that would be large or cumbersome to lug across the sand.
I opted for a simple 3 gallon bucket with a handle. I knew it would be durable and we could fit a ton of supplies in there.

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Also, I didn’t want to waste a ton of money on pieces that I would have to worry about replacing if they got lost. I wanted something affordable and durable. I shopped at just two stores to find everything I needed: Meijer and Dollar Tree.

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Instead of getting the flimsy plastic buckets from the kids toy section, we instead got more industrial plastic buckets from the home improvement section of Meijer. These things will take quite a beating. Walmart has similar buckets in their home improvement section, as does any major home improvement store such as Home Depote, Menards, or Lowes.
And, since a bucket of wet sand can be quite heavy, we made it easier on the kids by simply cutting a hole in the bottom. The kids simply place the bucket where they want the castle to be, fill the bucket with sand, pull the bucket up and there remains their sand castle base.

As for the various tools to shape the castle, I picked up a pack of 3 small mesh laundry bags from Dollar Tree. Mesh bags are fantastic because when you are packing up to leave, you can give them a shake and the sand will fall right off. Keeps that sand out of your car and home.

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To shovel the sand into the buckets, I got some metal serving spoons. These again are much sturdier than the flimsy plastic sand shovels in the kids toy section. Mine were 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree. Remember to get enough for all the kids! Spoons are also great for digging trenches and moats and such around the castle.
To smooth out any imperfections in the castle walls and roof, I got a pack of three icing spatulas from the bakery section of Meijer.
To carve any small detail work, such as windows and doors, I added several paint brushes in various tiny sizes.

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For adding towers or building small near-by structures, I added some plastic cups to the kit. Because there was so many of them I took out my sharpie markers and wrote a number on each one so that it would be easy to tell if any where missing when it came time to pack up at the end of the day. We wouldn’t want to accidentally leave cups behind to litter the beach.

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For decoration and wow-factor, I found everything I needed at Dollar Tree in the floral and craft supply aisles.
A bag of sea shells was only $1. A bag of glass gems in clear, blue, and green was another $1.
To make the flags for the castles, I picked out a pack of 15 dowel rods for $1 and a roll of blue patterned duct tape for $1. Simply rip a strip of duct tape about 6 inches long, put the top of the dowel rod in the middle, and wrap it around the dowel rod, sticking it to itself. Cut off the excess and shape the end with scissors.

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All in all, the kids had a fun day at the beach with their homeschool friends, they built some fully awesome sandcastles, and learned a bit while doing it.

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