Want some new ideas to reignite interest in sand play but don't want to take up the whole backyard or sweep sand off everything at the end of the day? This post is for you!
As an educator and a Mum, I absolutely love the sensory appeal of sand play but it doesn’t mean you need to have a huge space to fit a sandpit to reap the sensory benefits. There are lots of ways to invite play and learning with sand on a smaller scale...why not try using smaller tubs and trays?
Even if you have a large sandpit (or 'sandbox' for my overseas friends!) using trays, tubs and smaller containers for sand play will often reignite children's interest in this budget friendly play resource! Sometimes, a large space filled with sand and noisy children is just to much...for you and the children!
You might be getting the idea that I love sand play? You would be right! I hear many parents and educators complaining about sand and the fact that it goes everywhere and many who even refuse to have it in their play space.
I think that is such a shame really as sand is easily brushed off before coming inside and it offers so many interesting opportunities for play based learning. Perhaps you might like to try one of the smaller scale sand play ideas I'm sharing with you in this post and give your sand play experiences a makeover !
Apart from the sand sticking to you on a hot day in places you didn't know you could sweat and children shaking it all over everything like a wet dog after a swim....What's not to love about sand play? I'm pretty sure you have had worse days and it keeps them so busy!
Being able to access sand play means there is always a way to incorporate opportunities for digging, scooping, pouring and more...with just a few simple materials and very little setup required as the children will decide how to use the space and resources available to them...big or small.
So why am I such a big advocate for sand play? Scroll on and I'll tell you!
8 Reasons to Provide Easy Access to Sand Play
Ready to try something different with your sand play? We've collected some simple ideas using trays and tubs from our Empowered Educator Community members and the web to help you get started.
Let's do this!
Empowered Ed member Christine added foam to her sand to make cement - it looks like there was a lot of engineering happening in this picture!
The addition of bottle tops and a mirror that Heather added turns simple sand into a lovely invitation to play.
Christina from our Facebook Group shared how a kitchen strainer from IKEA and a few blocks of wood made her sand play the place to be! A simple idea that invites investigation!
Many of our Empowered Ed members shared how much fun their children have with just the simple addition of water. This engaging image was shared by Vivienne.
“Being able to access sand play means there is always a way to incorporate opportunities for digging, scooping, pouring and more...with just a few simple materials and very little setup required as the children will decide how to use the space and resources available to them...big or small."
Jodie Clarke - The Empowered Educator
I love this sand and water mixing picture from Jeni - you can tell there was a lot of child directed play happening here!
If you're adding the water add in some real mixing tools too to extend role play and imagination - thanks for sharing this picture Lani.
Children love adding colour to their sand play, no need to buy expensive supplies, create it together instead like we did - see how to easily do this HERE.
You certainly don't need fancy toys and expensive equipment in your sand tray - why not add some items from nature (even better if you combine it with a nature walk to collect the items first).
Moon sand is always a fun sensory experience (you can see my easy recipe HERE). You can set up a simple invitation to play like I did below with some loose parts and baking tins, bowls and moulds from the op shop (I love real tools for dramatic play!) or you can just let the children choose how they want to play with it.
Have you ever tried glue painting with sand?
I simply squirted some children’s PVA glue on the paper and the girls moved it around with fingers and different brushes…..as they then sieved sand over the top, the colour stuck to the glue…we also just dropped sand with our hands. This is a great activity for the toddler age group and a fun way to incorporate investigation and problem solving. You can see how these turned out here.
Janelle doesn't let a bit of rain stand in the way of sand play - wet, muddy sand is a whole lot of fun!
More ideas for you to explore online....
How do your children enjoy playing with sand?
Come over and share a photo with us in our Empowered Educator Facebook group and find more ideas and inspiration from our 18,000+ community! It's free to join!
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A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.