Sensational Sand

You’ve probably noticed – in your yard or at the playground – how much your child likes to dig in the sand. Sand is great fun, but it’s also a wonderful material for learning.

Children learn mathematical and scientific concepts from playing at our sand table. For instance, when kids pour sand from measuring cup to measuring cup, they are likely to be learning about estimation, volume, texture, and even counting and simple physics.

As children play with sand, we encourage them to tall about what they are doing or experiencing. For instance, we might ask, “Does the sand feel different when it is wet?” or “How did you get the sand so smooth on your castle?”

Have you ever longed to dig your toes in the sand? Sand has the same soothing effect on children. We find that kids who are frustrated, annoyed, or angry often choose the sand center to work out those feelings.

You can encourage sand play at home by providing a sandbox. It does not need to be large. One excellent and inexpensive sandbox is a bin or busboy tray (available at restaurant suppliers and some discount stores and flea markets) filled with sand. Bins and trays are portable, easy to clean, and easily stored. Provide measuring cups and spoons and other plastic containers to support sand play.

Of course, spills and stray sand go with the territory. With indoor sand play, a sheet or large piece of plastic will help contain the mess, but the benefits are well worth any temporary inconvenience.

Family Friendly Communication for Early Childhood Programs
National Education for the Education of Young Children
Deborah Diffily and Kathy Morrison, editors; 1996; pg. 23.

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