How Children Learn through Sand & Water Play

What is Sand & Water Play?

Sand and water are the most basic of raw materials and children can use them without being constrained by the ‘right’ way to play with either of them. They promote curiosity, imagination and experimentation. Both sand and water are completely open ended; the child is able to determine the direction and level of their own play. And, most importantly, sand and water play is fun!

Sand play has always held intrigue for children and adults too! They can dig, sift, build, pour, feel, smell and explore, there are no limits. The range of skills which can be developed through sand play are endless; it is a truly open-ended medium. When challenged to explore and investigate with sand, there are no restrictions or pre-conceived outcomes, and it doesn’t matter what developmental level a child is at, sand play will always be appropriate.

Equally, water play is just as flexible, it offers the chance to develop an extensive range of skills and is appropriate for any age or ability of child. Water as a plaything is intriguing and absorbing; it allows children to explore its properties and structure, whilst having a great time.

The Benefits of Sand and Water Play

Sand and Water play is an essential provision in all early year’s environments. The learning and development which occur through sand and water play is evident in all areas of the EYFS. In personal, social and emotional development, sand and water play allows children to play on their own, alongside others and collaboratively. Whilst collaborating with others, children will develop communication skills, whilst negotiating and talking ideas through. Both sand and water play will stretch children’s imaginations and provide excellent contexts for imaginative play, which will then enable children to develop narratives and extend their experiences and ideas through play. As well as speaking and listening skills, emergent writing is supported, especially through sand, as children are naturally drawn to making marks in sand with fingers or other tools.

Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy skills will be developed through sand and water play. Whilst exploring capacity and its associated mathematical language, they will also begin to understand the importance of prediction and working things out through trial and error. Investigating the properties of sand and water and how they change or can be used, develops children’s knowledge and understanding of the world. Asking questions and using different and unusual resources with sand and water encourages experimentation and investigation. Sand and water play also offers opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills, depending on the tools and equipment used.

Sand and Water 1

Product Codes: SP7437, CV1129, AT104

Sand and Water Play Resources – What do I need?

Sand and water areas, either indoor or outdoor, can be as simple or extravagant as budgets allow! You will need to consider how much space is available for sand and water play. If space is at a premium indoors you can have them combined in a dual water and sand table. Or, smaller water or sand tables can be used. Make the most of the outdoors, with water and sand resources which challenge and stimulate children’s minds. By introducing water towers or even a water wall frame, children will be challenged to design their own channelling systems, making them perfect for child-initiated play.

Materials and equipment to enhance sand and water play need to be carefully selected, with thought given to not only their potential for learning but also the safety aspect. Frequently changing resources and using the children to contribute to the planning of what can be used is vital to sustaining interest and eliciting different ways of thinking. Try thinking outside the box with water and sand play and introduce some unusual resources which move away from the traditional sand and water toys. Water pumps, syringes, squeezy bottles and tubing (see the full set) make great addition to a water area, or why not try hiding bones, fossils or gems in the sand, and having brushes and sieves available to reveal the treasures!Sand and Water 2Product Codes: QW288, KL409, GH1056

sand and water play resources equipment

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