Sand play draws in children of all ages. The feeling of sand between toes and fingers provides a tactile experience for kids and enhances fine motor skills. Free play in a sandbox often engages children for hours. Add structured activities to provide learning opportunities and increase the appeal of sand play. A beach, sandbox at the park or a small tray of sand at home all work for these sand play activities.
Fill a tray with sand or use a sandbox to provide a tactile letter practice activity. Encourage the kids to practice writing letters in the sand with a finger. When the sand area is covered with letters, have the kids smooth out the surface with a hand and start over. Expand the activity to practice writing numbers, words and shapes in the sand. Have the kids write their names in the sand or draw a picture. Offer other implements, such as straws or pencils, for children to use when writing in the sand.
Use a large area of sand to create a sand town. Build mounds of sand to create hills in the town. Smooth out roads around the sand town. Add buildings using wet sand packed into a small bucket. Provide toy cars and plastic people. Encourage the kids to play in the sand town, using the cars to drive around and interacting with each other through plastic people figures. Scale down the sand town if only a small area of sand is available.
Sand Treasure Hunt
Hide several small objects in the sand play area. Select items that the children can use in the sand after the treasure hunt is over, such as toy cars or seashells. Keep a list of the objects, or at least write down the number of objects hidden, so you will know when they've all been located. Encourage the kids to dig through the sand to find the hidden objects. For a fun twist, create dinosaur bones from clay, allowing them to harden. Bury the dinosaur bones in the sand and send the kids on a dinosaur digging expedition.
Provide a variety of objects that the kids can use in the sand to create patterns. Ideas include feathers, combs, sticks, seashells and rocks. Have the kids press the objects into wet or dry sand. Encourage them to drag the items along in the sand to observe the resulting patterns.
Digging and Pouring
Gather household items to use with sand. Ideas include funnels, colanders, measuring cups and spoons. Let the kids experiment with these different objects and how the sand moves through them. Try this activity with both wet and dry sand, asking the kids to verbalise how the sand acted differently when the same items were used.
Incorporate sand into art projects. Purchase coloured sand and clear bottles to create layered sand containers. Make your own coloured sand by adding a few drops of food colouring to clean sand in a plastic zip top bag. Mix the sand around until the colour is incorporated. Use a funnel to pour layers of the coloured sand in the clear bottles. Make sand pictures by drawing with white glue. Sprinkle sand over the glue, gently shaking off the excess. Allow the glue to dry and display the sand picture.