Beach Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

Beaches are the areas of land that border oceans, as well as lakes and rivers. Many are tropical and warm, while others are muddy, rugged and freezing. Read on to find out more about beaches.

Sand and Surf

Picture yourself enjoying a day at the beach. You can taste the salty air, as you dig your toes into the sand. Do you ever wonder where all that sand came from, and how the beach formed?

Found all over the world, many beaches are vacation hot spots. They are often sandy, but can be rocky or even frozen. Did you know that beaches can even be found in different colors, and some contain precious gems? Read on to learn facts that may surprise you about beaches!

Beach in the Philippines
Beach in Philippines

What Is a Beach?

A beach is the relatively narrow strip of land that borders an ocean, river or lake. Land slopes gently downward on a beach to meet the water at the shore. The foreshore of a beach is the area where the waves break. If you've ever been boogie boarding or body surfing, the foreshore is the spot where you ride the waves. The backshore is the dry, sandy part farther back where you likely lay your beach towel.

Sandy beaches are often found right by the ocean, such as those in Hawaii. Other beaches are rugged and rocky. Beaches bordering rivers are often soft and muddy, full of silty sediment. And those found in very cold places, such as Antarctica, are just plain icy and frozen!

A rugged and rocky beach in California
Rocky beach

A Closer Look at Sand

Let's zoom in on the chief component that makes up dreamy tropical beaches: sand. What are these tiny grains that cover beaches in seemingly infinite numbers? In short, sand is a mixture of many miniscule parts. Most abundant are tiny particles of smooth quartz, produced by millions of years of eroding granite rock. Quartz helps give beaches that sparkly, glistening appearance.

Up-close view of sand showing quartz particles
Sand magnified

Also in the mix are bits of seashell, as well as many coral particles. White powdery sand in places like the Caribbean are made up of large amounts of coral. In fact, the tropical parrot fish helps create this sand by grinding up and eating coral. These tiny grains then come out the other end of the fish, producing white sand! Colored coral can create pink sand beaches, and volcanic rock makes up black sand beaches.

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