Exploring Sand with Preschoolers

Children love to play with sand.  It’s inviting.  It provides a soothing sensory experience.   It’s also a great way for children to learn physical, cognitive and social skills.

Sand play promotes children’s physical development.   Large muscles get stronger as children dig, pour, sift and scoop.  Hand-eye coordination improves as children pour sand from one container to another.   

Sand play also helps children learn about math and science.  Provide spoons, pails and other containers.  Make comments as children play.  Which pail is most full?  Which is lightest?  How many scoops of sand does it take to fill a pail?  What happens when you pour sand through a funnel?   Put a pinch of sand on a piece of white paper and look at it through a magnifying glass.  Check out the different grains of sand.  Which ones reflect light?    

Children can learn language skills by writing or drawing in the sand.  Add new words to their vocabulary as you talk about the sand as being “gritty”, “grainy”, “coarse” or “fine”.  Try some simple sand crafts.  Use white glue to make designs on cardboard.  Sprinkle with sand and then shake off the excess sand to reveal the sand picture.    

Sand play can also help develop social skills.  When children work together they are faced with real problems that require sharing and compromising.   Children may work as a group to “cook” with sand, dig tunnels or build castles.

There really is no right or wrong way to use sand ~ so have fun with it!

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