Stone cairns :: building towers with natural materials

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!

A fun idea to try: building towers using natural materials. Fun balancing challenge.

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.

play with natural materials

When you’re at the beach there’s no end to the loose parts on offer for play.

natural materials loose parts free 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.

stone cairn building towers

 You could try to build a cairn with a wide base…

cairn building towers

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 florish.

stone cairns

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.

cairns building towers

More beach theme activities

If you like our cairns idea, you might also like these beach-theme activities

:: seashell lemon play dough recipe

:: sight word seashells :: sensory spelling

:: sandcastle messy play :: homemade cloud dough recipe

:: shell painting

:: ice cool play with hidden-treasure blocks

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