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On a lucky, mid-winter escape to a Southern beach, neither bucket nor shovel made the cut for suitcase space, and we had one bucket to share between three sisters and two family friends. So, when asked, “Can we make a sand castle, daddy?!” Brian quickly switched gears to dribble castles.
Dribble castles (think mini stalactites) are made from layering drips of wet sand on top of one another until no more can fit without turning castle to mush. My husband and I had fun seeing who could make the taller castle, while our girls enjoyed simply making more and more until a whole kingdom emerged. Just like traditional pack-and-dump sand castles, you can adorn dribble castles and pretend that an endless range of characters live, eat, battle and dream in them.
Letting cool, wet and gooey sand ooze through your fingers is not only fun, but also directly contributes to sensory development. For the toddlers in our group, this sensory experience was just the thing to hold their focus. For the older kids, it was this plus the challenge of trying to make the castle. If you dribble too fast and loose, your tower will plop over. This means that making a dribble castle also requires significant restraint, rewarding kids when they exhibit self control, persistence, and fine motor skills. Creating dribble castles is very free and open-ended, offering kids the chance to mess around and try, fail, and adjust—just the kind of activity that helps build creative minds. Finally, once you have a castle, you have the setting for all kinds of pretend tales and adventures, exercising emerging imaginations and way for kids to spark make believe play anytime they are near wet sand.