How to Build an Awesome Sand Castle With Your Kids

Have your kids ever had a disappointing sand castle flop?

Want to know the secret to building sensational sand structures every time?

Take your family’s sand castle creations to the next level with these easy tips.

Building a sand structure is a great way to bond with your family at the beach. Use these easy tips to create a castle masterpiece instead of a massive failure!

In this article I’ll share four simple secrets that will help you achieve sand castle success with your kids.

Want to create truly awesome sand castles with your kids? These 4 simple secrets will help your family achieve sand castle success every time you go to the beach.

Why Build a Sand Castle?

There’s no better beach project than to build a sand castle as a family. It’s practically a summer rite of passage. On the list of things you must do when you head to the beach: splash around in the water, look for seashells and build a sand castle.

Although it may seem like a piece of cake, building a sand castle is deceptively tricky. You can spend hours digging, patting and sculpting and still find that your finished product is not all you hoped it would be. There’s an easy way to fix that!

Work together to design your castle and plan the décor. Then create the best sand castle ever. And have fun. Fun is a huge part of sand castle building.

A sand castle is exactly what it sounds like: a structure built with sand. Competitive sand sculptures come in a variety of shapes and sizes. And it’s not the only type of sand art. People paint with sand and draw massive designs in the sand.

awesome sand castle

You can make awesome sand castles, too! Image created using Canva.

Sand castle building may have started as early as the 14th century in India. Others believe sand sculpture began with sand models for pyramid-building in Egypt, though there’s no documentation.

In the late 19th century more “modern” sculptures started to appear on the beach in New Jersey. And then sand-building contests started to gain popularity in the 1970s in California.

Whether you build a castle for fun or have aspirations of taking your family on the competitive circuit, there’s no reason you can’t build an awesome structure!

You Will Need

  • Paper and pencil for castle design
  • Spades and/or shovels
  • Buckets
  • Carving tools from your kitchen (straws, spatula)
  • Castle decorations
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Camera

Preparation Time

30+ minutes to discuss designs and gather tools and accessories

Activity Time

1-2 hours


A beach or similar location with sand and water

Ready for your sand castle adventure? Let’s get started!

#1: Design Your Sand Castle

To make the best structure possible, involve your family in every step of the process.

Start with a design session at home before you head to the beach.

girl building sand castle

Design your castle before you head to the beach. Image created using Canva.

Talk about sand castles and castles in general. What books or movies have the coolest castles? What attributes should your castle have? Will you build a moat? A drawbridge? A tower? All of the above?

Design your ideal sand castle. Draw a picture together or have everyone draw his or her own version and figure out how to merge all of your ideas into one giant castle.

child drawing picture

Draw a picture of your ideal sand castle. Image source: iStockPhoto.

This design will be your blueprint for when you step onto the beach. Note: the younger your kids, the simpler you’ll want to make your design. Also consider the time you’ll spend at the beach and your little ones’ attention spans.

Keep in mind, simple doesn’t mean small. Don’t be afraid to go large with your design. It’s much easier to sculpt and carve large amounts of sand.

#2: Gather the Right Tools

Before you head to the beach, select the right tools. It can make your life so much easier once you start to build your sand castle.

plastic tools to build with

The right tools will make all the difference. Image created using Canva.

The most important tool is a lightweight shovel. Shovels with wooden handles are great, because they are less likely to crack under the strain. However, for little hands, go with a traditional plastic spade. It is a good idea to bring a shovel for each of your sand castle builders.

In addition, you’ll need at least two buckets: one to carry water and another to mix the sand and water.

boy playing with sand

Plastic tools are best for young builders. Image source: iStockPhoto.

A word of warning: filling a bucket with sand and turning it over will not necessarily make the best sand castle. The reason for this is that the water in a bucket full of wet sand is not able to drain away. The sand then forms a vacuum inside the bucket and will not come out no matter how hard you pat!

It’s much easier to mix the sand and water in the bucket, scoop out large amounts of sand with your hands and sculpt from there.

To shape and detail your sand castle, you’ll need some tools. Most of these can be found in your kitchen cupboards. Take a pastry knife, a trowel and similar carving tools in a variety of sizes to shape your sand castle.

Grab a plastic spatula and a soft-bristled paintbrush to smooth the sand castle’s edges.

Also, pack a few plastic drinking straws. These will enable you to blow unwanted sand from your design without damaging your creation.

girl holding wooden spoons

Check your kitchen cabinets for tools like a pastry knife, spatula and straws to carve out and sculpt your sand castle. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Finally, bring a camera or camera phone. Taking a picture of your building will help when it is time to say goodbye to your sand castle and your kids are feeling sad and reluctant to leave.

Take a series of snaps as the castle is being built. Once you are home, create a collage of images or a slide show.

#3: Create Your Sand Castle Decorations

This part of the building process is an adventure in itself! Start gathering decorations before you leave home and continue once you’re at the beach. Since you have your design, discuss what sorts of things you want to include in, on and around your sand castle.

Make a list. For example, if you want a flag for the castle, what materials do you need to construct it? Do you need seashells or rocks to decorate your archways and bridges? Let your imaginations run wild as you explore your home and then the beach for hardware and décor.

Give your kids a small cardboard or plastic box so they can collect interesting materials for the sand castle. Lollipop sticks, interesting stones, feathers, sticks and shiny gems are all great ideas!

adding decorations to sand castle

The search for decorations is an adventure in itself! Image created using Canva.

Another option is to create a scavenger hunt with items for your kids to find throughout your home. You can also gather the items at home and have your kids hunt for them, along with natural items, once you get to the beach.

Remember, if you bring lots of accessories to decorate your sand castle to the beach, take them home with you when you leave.

#4: Build Your Sand Castle

Once you have your design, tools and decorations, it’s time to build your sand castle, so head out to the beach or other sand-filled location.

When you get there, scout out the perfect location. Ideally, build your sand castle in a place that has easy access to water, but is far enough away from any encroaching tide.

Once you choose your location, build a large, flat base, so your castle will be stable and secure. A full-sized garden spade is useful for this step.)

Mix your sand with lots and lots of water for the best composition. Pour the water into the sand, stir until it’s fully saturated, then let it drain and pat and mold the sand into the shape you want.

sand castle near water

Water is essential for the success of your sand castle. Image created using Canva.

Water is the key to successful sand castle building. Most sand castle experts recommend you use one part water to one part sand. Always keep your sand wet and allow it to drain before compressing and sculpting.

After you have your base, build your towers.

Finally, connect the towers with walls, doorways and arches.

Once you have your basic structure, bring out your carving tools and start carving out the details for your castle.

Here are some carving basics:

  • Start at the top so that any loose sand doesn’t spoil carving you’ve already done.
  • Use a paintbrush or straw to brush or blow away unwanted sand.
  • Go slowly as you carve, since it’s not that easy to replace the sand if you make a mistake.

Carving allows you to create the design touches that’ll really make your sand castle detailed and unique.

Smooth out the exterior of the castle and carve out brick designs or tunnels. Also add doors, windows and staircases. Carve your names into the castle and/or decorate the walls with drawings.

Building a sand castle can be a lot of fun.

If you want, carve out a smooth slide around your castle. Then drop a small ball into it and watch it roll down and around your creation!

When your castle shape is to your liking, add the decorations. Then admire your masterpiece.

mom and son building sand castle

Enjoy your sand castle adventure! Image source: iStockPhoto.

The most important thing to remember when you construct your castle is that perfection is overrated.

Just have fun! And take photos so those memories last a little longer.

Some Final Thoughts

The perfect sand castle lies not in how grand it looks or how expertly you carve the exterior walls, it’s in the fun you had with your kids throughout the building process.

Yes, you want your kids to have the most awesome sand castle ever! However, remember that imagination can smooth over any cracks in walls or wonky towers. Make it a team effort and you can’t go wrong.

What do you think? Ready to head out to the beach? When was the last time you made a sand castle? What was the best sand castle you ever made? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Please let us know in the comment section below! And, while you’re at it, share any pics.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Jane Douglas-Jones

Jane Douglas-Jones helps businesses with their online content, visual and video marketing. For more information see​. Other posts by »

  • Jennifer Ballard

    It’s great to learn these tips, Jane. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve tried to make a castle with a bucket, only to have all the sand stick inside. Now we know better! I think one last beach day before the kids go back to school is in order, so we can try this out. Thanks!

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