Summertime, beach time and sand castles just seem to go together. But until I started researching sand castles, I had no idea that there would be so many tips and tricks available online. Whether you're just looking to have some fun with your toddler, or you're ready to enter a sand castle competition, you'll find what you need at the following sites.
eHow has three how-to articles about building sand castles. "How to Build a Sand Castle" is a good place to start for family fun. "Extremely wet sand is easiest to work with. Use a spray bottle to wet down the sand if your castle begins to dry and crumble during construction." The other two are "Find a Sand Castle Competition" and "Win a Sand Castle Competition." Links to pages formatted for printing are found at the bottom, along with the opportunity to submit your own sand castle tip.
Highlights of this Family Education feature are the descriptions of basic castle components and techniques: pile of pancakes, towers, dribble towers, arches, ramps and walls. Best advice for family sand castle building is to remember "sand castles are very much like life. The joy comes from the process of living and building and not in the act of completion."
The World Championships of Sand Sculpture are held each year in Harrison Hot Springs, Vancouver, BC. Visit their site for a photo gallery of winners going back to 1990, and an illustrated "How Do They Do That?" article. If you want even more how-to detail, there is a link at the bottom of the article to an expanded version. How long does it take to build and carve the sculptures? How do they stay up for a month? What happens when it rains? Click on FAQ's (below Other Stuff) for answers.
Sandy Feet's Sand Castle Central is my pick of the day because it gives us a peek inside the world of a professional sand sculptor. Her illustrated Tips and Tricks section is more detailed than any of the other sites, and includes a free PDF download titled "Handstacking Tips and Tricks." The site also includes a comprehensive listing of worldwide sand castle contests.
As every sand castle architect knows, you gotta use wet sand because dry sand just doesn't work. But exactly why does wet sand clump? We turn to thermodynamics for answers. Why Files explains that wet sand sticks together for the same reason that water drops bead up on a waxed car. "On a Ferrari, it's called surface tension. In a sandbox, damp grains stick together by what [Dr. Peter] Schiffer calls 'interstitial liquid bridges'." I'm not sure knowing this will actually help make better sand castles, but it can make for some interesting beach conversation.