How to Build A SandCastle
Sand and Endless Creativity
Grabbing a fistful of sand whether wet or dry stimulates the senses and inspires a sense of calm. The gritty warmth as you walk along the shore is soothing on the feet. Letting sand trickle through your fingers,waving your hands through the sand as you sunbathe are relaxing activities while taking a break from the surf. Kids too love the sand when taking a break from swimming. There is nothing better then a warm summer day and wet sand to spark a child's creativity.
My son's and I have been regular beach visitors since their early years. Buckets and shovels in hand, they would dig and fill their buckets making rudimentary sand sculptures even at the tender age of two. As they grew older, so did the sophistication of their sculptures. My middle son can build for hours on the shore and when their cousins join in, there is always a sandcastle left behind after our visit!
Materials for Making Sandcastles
- shovel for scooping and packing and to carve the basic form of the sand sculpture;
- building trowels, painting knives, spoons and brushes for details
- small bucket for shaping towers;
- two-by-two for tapping out air;
- paint stirrer for sketching and smoothing;
- straws for blowing excess sand away;
- measuring spoons and melon baller for making windows;
- pastry knives for maximum detail and control;
- paint scraper, fork
- popsicle sticks can smoothly shape large areas so that you can carve clean turrets, towers, and rooftops
- offset spatula and plastic knife for carving;
- toothpicks are great for marking detailed trims and decorations, like windowsills or tiles.
- large buckets for hauling water and building.
- you can use anything from shells, stones, to plastic figurines for a finishing touch to decorate your sandcastle.
Building Sandcastles at Mike Weir Beach, Sarnia, OntarioClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ingredients for Making Sandcastles
- a beach with fairly fine sand as course sand with stones will spell disaster
- sand with sharp and small grains;
- sharp sand grains create a lot of friction
- small grains of sand are easily compacted
- essential ingredient of any sand sculpture as it binds the sand granules like glue
- water's surface tension creates bridges between sand grains connecting them together
- too much water fills all the space between the grains, reducing the attraction between granules and making gooey sand
- to ensure that the sand has just the right amount of water, use the squeeze test: take a good handful of sand and squeeze; if it holds its shape it is just damp enough to build with
Sand Castle Building 101
The basic sand castle is made up of four parts:
Additional components can be added after these have been mastered:
- your imagination is the limit as to what can be added
Sand Castle Base
The base provides a firm foundation for your sand sculpture. Piles of wet sand on a central area are wet down with water and hand-shaped. The edges are rounded and the top is flattened using your hand or paint trowel. Continue with your base until it is as large as you desire your sculpture to be. Using a paint stirrer or shovel, draw an outline of your castle in the sand base remembering to include the castle entrance in your sand sketch.
Visit a Beach to Participate in a Sand Castle Festival
- US Open Sandcastle Competition in Imperial Beach
he Imperial Beach Sandcastle Competition is the largest sandcastle building competition in the United States. This festival encompasses a full weekend including a street festival, live music and entertainment. All events are free to the public, excep
- Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition & Exhibition | About Us
Parksville's Sand Sculpting Competition history dates back to 1982, when we hosted our first "B.C. Open". A total of 100 people attended the first event, and it was reviewed as a "great success". From the BC Open to its present day title "The Quality
- Clam Harbour Sandcastle Contest
Clam Harbour Beach is a long, beautiful white sand beach within the Halifax Regional Municipality. Each year the Clam Harbour Sandcastle Contest attracts hundreds of contestants and thousands of spectators.
- Ontario Festivals|Cobourg Sandcastle Festival
Looking for a great day out with the family? Want to express your inner artist? Always wanted a beach front property? You can find all of this in a beautiful setting right on Lake Ontario! Cobourg is known for it's breathtaking waterfront and what be
Towers of the Sand Castle
To ensure your towers remain standing tall or short use the following tips:
- fill a bucket about 1/3 full of sand and then beat down on it to compact it and remove excess water and air pockets
- repeat the above process twice until the bucket is full of well compacted, damp sand
- find the ideal location on your base and turn the bucket upside down
- tap on the sides to loosen the sand; do not tap too hard or the sand will crumble when the bucket is removed and not tapping hard enough will result in part of the tower remaining in the bucket
- pull the bucket straight up
- if you have been successful in your technique, you should have a long lasting tower
- a second method of creating towers is to use the pancake method
- for this, goopy sand you have dug deep for leaving pools of water in your hole, is best
- scoop up handfuls of this sand and place on your base
- flatten and jiggle to get rid of excess water
- use increasingly smaller pancakes piled on top of one another using the same process as above to create your tower
- as you add more pancakes, push down less and jiggle more to create a stable tower
- a combination of both methods can be used to create an interesting array of towers!
Wall of the Sand Castle
To build walls, it is better to create bricks of sand piled on top of one another like seen on a house.
- scoop sand of the same consistency as used in the pancake method of building towers
- place the sand on the desired location of your base and form rectangular blocks
- use the same jiggly/patting motion to expel the excess water
- continue the above steps to create many bricks, stacking them side by side and then on top of each other to create height; overlapping successive layers of brick as seen in house brick will provide a more stable wall which will remain upright for longer
Arches in a Sand Castle
Arches create a stunning look to your sand castle giving them a realistic ambiance. They can be used to connect towers or provide unique doorways and windows.
- gently tunnel through a wall using a carving tool to shape your arch
- arches can be carved into towers using carving tools to provide the look of windows or you can tunnel part way into a tower to give your window a more realistic look
- melon ballers or measuring spoons can also be used to 'scoop' out lookout windows creating a natural arch from the shape of the scoop
- straws can be used to blow away excess sand
What would you build a sand sculpture of?
For the Love of Building Sand Castles!
Building sand castles on a warm summer day is an engaging activity to spend with someone you love or a close friend or relative. The next time you plan a beach visit or vacation don't forget to pack a sand sculpture kit. Include a camera and don't forget to take pictures of your sand castle or sand sculpure before the waves, wind, weather or new beach visitors wash it away!
Fraser, Donald. Peterborough Kids. Building Castles in the Sand. June/July 2012.
Leibowitz, Wanda. Yahoo Voices. Sandcastle Building 101: Professional Standcastle Tips and Tricks. June 5, 2007.
marthastewart.com. Summer Living. How to Build a Sand Castle. 2012
sandinyoureye . Sand in Your Eye. How to Make Sand Sculptures. 2009.
Year of Science. Stories, Scientists and Careers. Sandcastle Science 2010-2011.