Monday, 16 April 2012

Playing with sand

                      How sand play can have many effects on a child's development

It is gets everywhere...........but, boy! It is fun!! Sand can offer a child so much in terms of learning and development. There are many areas which offer sand pits to explore, not to mention the many sandy beaches across the country (and overseas!)

Sand is simply a mixture of rock and mineral particle's which, when wet can stick together can create great structures!! In fact, wet and dry sand is so different for a child to explore as they act very differently. Dry sand runs through the fingers and through sieves and feels soft and grainy to the touch. There is nothing quite like the feel of sand trickling on your hand, I have found it very therapeutic!! Wet sand can be manipulated and squishes between the fingers........two different textures from one material!!

Sandplay is also a very physical act. By transporting the sand by lifting full buckets etc, a child strengthens the muscles in their arms and fingers. It can help children's mathematical development too by offering opportunities to explore quantities, weight and volume. Sand play is very good for social development too as children have to learn to share equipment and space around the sand tray/pit as well as the conversations they have with one another. In fact, language is a huge part of sand play, describing textures and what they intend to do with the sand.

Sandplay has been used for therapy purposes since the 1950's too, using realistic miniatures such as people, animals and insects from the therapists collection. These are used to help the child express their feelings and how they view their life. It is quite a complex therapy, which you can learn more about at or - it is used for adults too and is actually very interesting to read about!!

There is so much you can add to sand to make it interesting. Here are some ideas:

1. Buckets, spades, sieves, pots, pans and tubs with lids

2. Gather together toy animals, some sticks, leaves etc and create a jungle or farm scene (straw is good for this!)

3. Shells and pebbles from the beach

4. Cars - fantastic for making tracks in the sand!

5. Building toys....dumper trucks, cement mixer toys etc to make a building site.

6. Sticks and pieces of wood for mark making

7. Toy people

8. Toy bugs and insects with magnifying glasses or magnified pots

There are so many different ideas you can use. I would love to see your own sand play creations and ideas. Email me at and I will post your pictures and ideas on the site!!

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