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Building a Sand Castle
Building a castle is buckets of fun, so why not make a few with your kids at the beach this summer? All you need are sand, water, household items, and some helping hands.
Tip: Your castle doesn't have to be as big or fancy as this one -- we'll show you the techniques, and you decide which ones you'll need to make your castle look just right.
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What You'll NeedYou can find these at home: shovel for scooping and packing; small bucket for shaping towers; two-by-two for tapping out air; paint stirrer for sketching and smoothing; straws for blowing excess sand away; measuring spoons and melon baller for making windows; offset spatula and plastic knife for carving; and large buckets for hauling water and building.
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Use a shovel or paint stirrer to draw an outline in the sand where you want the castle to stand (don't forget the entrance). That way, everyone who helps with the project will know exactly where to start digging.
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Shovel sand from outside the lines into the center of your sketch to form a large mound. The pile should be a little bit taller than the first floor of the castle, since you'll probably end up carving a lot of it away.
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With the back of a shovel, pack the sides of the mound to form walls. Make them higher than the center of the mound, creating a "bowl" to hold water. Keep packing until you get the height you want.
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PourAdd bucketfuls of water to the center of the mound to form a pond, and pour evenly around the inside so as not to create weak spots.
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JumpJump around! Once the water sinks in, add more sand and water, and jump again, until the middle of the mound is the same height as the sides.
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BuildPlace a large bucket with bottom cut off on the mound. Fill three-quarters up with sand. Pour in water, climb in, and stomp. Tap sides with a two-by-two to remove air. Repeat until bucket is full, then lift it off.
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MoldSmall buckets are great for making towers. Just fill them with damp sand to overflowing, level off the sand, turn over in desired spot, and lift. The more sizes of buckets you have, the more varied your towers.
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CarveOnce you have the basic castle shape, use the remaining tools to make the sides straight and add windows, doors, and other details. Since the sand has been tightly packed with water, it will maintain its shape.
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Making Straight Walls
Make wall shape with a downward motion, slicing into the side with the offset spatula and removing sand as you go. To make walls level and fine-tune the angles, run the spatula or paint stirrer down all four sides. The smoother the walls are, the more real your castle will look.
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Slide the offset spatula over the roof to make it level. Holding the spatula at an angle, cut into the sand with a sawing motion. When you've worked your way in to the depth of the spatula, cut away the excess sand by running the spatula straight down.
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Draw windows with plastic knife. Angle offset spatula or knife into the window; carve sand away. Use the rounded edge of knife to shape curves of windows. Make lookout windows with melon baller or measuring spoons. Blow excess window sand away with drinking straw.
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Draw shape; with offset spatula or knife, carve away sand as you would for windows. For a double door, draw a second arch slightly inside the outer opening. Carve sand away. Smooth the wall by running a plastic knife along the back of the door.
When you're finished, don't forget to take pictures of your sand castle before the tide rolls in!