Have you ever tried building stone cairns? If you have children who love building towers they’re a fab activity to try – combining natural materials, loose parts, construction play and just a little added dash of wow-factor!
Stone cairns :: building towers with natural materials
A cairn is a man-made stack of stones, found all over the world, marking special places and used since ancient times. They are also lots of fun to build with your children.
When you’re at the beach there’s no end to the loose parts on offer for play.
Start by hunting out the perfect pebbles. Flat stones are easier to balance, or go for a mix of shapes if you fancy a challenge.
You could try to build a cairn with a wide base…
or build a tall, narrow tower, with one pebble on top of another. You can pick all your pebbles so they are the same colour, or mix in different ones to create a design. You can add small stones or shells at the very top for a final flourish.
What are children learning?
Aside from being fun,by making these stone cairns you have the opportunity to
:: explore the beach and discover the natural materials available for play. You might find other treasures while you beach-comb for the perfect pebble. We found shells, a mermaid’s purse and some fossils.
:: learn about constructing in three dimensions and consider how you need to adapt your design to get your cairn to stay upright.
:: encounter gravity!
:: concentrate. It’s good for children to have a task that requires them to be quiet, think, and focus just on what they are doing. Building these towers is a mini meditation. My children were silent as they fixed their attention on getting their stones to balance.
:: create something beautiful, for others to discover after you have left the beach for the day. These are art installations that might inspire others to take up the challenge and see if they can add a cairn to the collection.
More beach theme activities
If you like our cairns idea, you might also like these beach-theme activities
Ready for a whole year of exploring through the senses? Super Sensory Invitations to Play is a delightful resource that encourages your children to explore the five senses through the year, using a wide variety of sensory materials. It includes 52 invitations to play, linked to the festivals and seasons of the year, and including water, ice, dough, rice, paints, sand, sensory tubs, and more.
They are easy, simple, and fun ideas that you can use right now to give a multi-sensory boost to your play and learning. It comes with a printable recipe book featuring all our favourite recipes for play. Come and see more here.