playing with sand

Playing with Sand is Beneficial for Your Child’s Development


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    Find out why playing with sand is beneficial for your child’s development and some ideas on how to make it fun!

    Playing with Sand

    I love it when spring approaches, the afternoons lengthen, the cold leaves us, and we can enjoy the beach. Playing with it is the sensory game par excellence for boys, girls, and adults of all ages and their importance in their sensory development.

    I have already told you before that we love to play outdoors since I consider it key to the health and well-being of children. Interaction with the environment is encouraged. They appreciate elements that we find every day (stones, leaves, sticks …). In short, it is a way for children to respect nature. This play allows them to express themselves in a free and unstructured way. Spend hours making castles, holes to bury something or bury themselves, create dumplings with wet earth. The methods they have fun and learn are endless!

    Did you know that it is exceptionally beneficial for children? Forget, for a moment, the mess, or the fact of having to spend all day removing it from the mouth or the eyes of children. You always have to be careful, especially with younger children. But the benefits are, in fact, much more significant than the drawbacks. There are so many benefits of sand play that it is difficult to know where to start.

    Sand Play

    Playing in the sand is very important for the sensory development of the little ones since it stimulates touch (it allows you to feel different textures and temperatures), vision (it is helpful to create different forms and colors), smell, hearing…

    Touch stimulation has positive implications for children’s growth and motor coordination. Fine motor skills can be developed, for example, by touching and trying to collect the tiny grains of this earth. Gross motor skills improve thanks to free movement and activities such as running or jumping.

    Enjoying it is beneficial for restless children as it has a calming effect on them, helping them focus, calm down, and share. Also, thanks to it, children are more resistant to allergies and diseases since contact with nature stimulates the immune system of the little ones.

    In addition, it develops creativity and the ability to plan and develop strategies since they decide what they will create and how they will do it.

    This type of game are almost limitless: watch the drain through tubes, pipes, funnels, squeezy bottles, and plastic bottles; draw with toothpicks on top of it; plan and build roads, castles, mountains, animals; create food with elements of nature (leaves, sticks, flowers …); dig holes; hide and find objects; bury and unearth parts of one’s own body, etc.

    But where to play?

    In the park, for example. Smell and touch are acute senses for new ideas in children; for this reason, it is ideal for taking them to the park and teaching them with the help of a bucket and a shovel. Another option is to take them to the sea. There they will be able to enjoy it for a long time, without forgetting (of course!) The most appropriate hours must be respected according to the sun, and always use sunscreen.

    Set-to-make-blue-castles with no park or sea nearby, there are also great solutions on the market, such as sandboxes for children. Also known as children’s tanks, they have a large but well-defined space, which helps to mark the limits and the distribution of space. Having a sandbox is also healthy for interaction and hand eye coordination with other children through language development, enriching new vocabulary, making children more communicative and creative, and promoting social skills, solidarity, and physical development.

    A children’s sandbox leads children to plan their creations by encouraging group play. In this way, even the shyest can work better and interact with others without overexposing themselves.

    Young children

    When your child goes out to the field or park and plays with this, it is normal for him to come home full of it. But don’t be upset about it. It is a sign that he has been learning. When children learn through it, they also have fun. What more could you want?

    They are gaining knowledge non-stop during the game. During the first 6 years, they learn more math’s with this game and toys in the bathtub than in school.

    During the game, what does your young child learn?

    So, while sand playing, how much is your little one learning? Aside from the fact that there are so many educational benefits, the game is highly therapeutic and relaxing.

    The numbers

    The little ones do not learn the number concept only in school. It all begins through the game, long before the symbols and their meaning are understood. When a child makes a sandcastle, he develops an understanding of an object, as well as no object. You can conceptualize that your friend has an object by holding it next to him. This is called one-to-one correspondence and is necessary to learn to count correctly. Then they begin to make various objects with this substance. When one of the buildings collapses or breaks down, there is one less. They compare the number of things they have with their friends’ number.

    These are called incidental mathematical concepts. They don’t really know that they are analyzing the amount, but they do it naturally. By the time a child formally learns numbers, they should have had enough enjoyable experiences to get an abstract idea of, say, 1 + 2. Without understanding what the numbers represent, the numbers themselves make no sense at first. Youngsters also learn to compare, analyze and measure things informally when enjoying.

    Capacity and volume

    Ability is one of the significant early mathematical concepts learned. The act of pouring sand (or pouring water) in and out of the buckets gives them a complete understanding of volume and capacity. Your toddlers will experiment and learn by simply adding some containers, buckets, or measuring cups. Thus, through sand playing, children develop skills such as:

    • Compare how much it is in two identical buckets.
    • Compare two different-sized containers with the same level.
    • Please find out how many cups or tablespoons it takes to fill a larger container.
    • Compare which container has more or less.
    • Find out if a container is full, empty, or half complete.
    • Spill some and notice that the level has dropped.

    Scientific concepts

    For toddlers, this game is a scientific discovery. To find things that are buried, not only are kids building, digging, and excavating, but they are also discovering the various layers and how it changes as they dig deeper, just like the earth.

    At the top is warm and dry, while it becomes compact, more relaxed, and wetter as it descends to the bottom.  Also, the little ones explore different materials, both natural and manufactured, and learn how things work and their impact on each other.


    As children play, they constantly solve problems. These real-life problems that need solving form the basis for all kinds of problem-solving in school, including solving math word problems. To achieve the desired result, children must understand that there are factors and a solution. When a child’s sandcastle falls apart when removed from the bucket, the little one needs to rethink the proportions.

    Or, when a child is figuring out how to build a ramp for trucks to pass, they may need to use more tools as a base to hold it up. At this stage, little ones don’t see problems like adults. Instead, they see challenges and do their best to overcome them and be successful.

    As you can see, children learn many things through water play and with the sand. It is essential to provide them time, space and develop these skills and this learning is innate.

    Playing with Sand at home

    Most toddlers can spend long moments enjoying the sand in the park. Sand play is an activity full of benefits that, during the pandemic, has been reduced by the confinement, closure of children’s spaces, and risks due to the difficulty of maintaining distance.

    Therefore, today we will tell you some possibilities so that your sons and daughters can go back to enjoying the sand … without having to go out! And by the way, we list the many benefits of this activity for typical and atypical little ones.

    A sandbox at home? Where to get it?

    Just as some creative families and handypersons manage to create playful spaces in their homes, in my case, I have been looking at more accessible options to be able to play with sand on our terrace. As I have been obsessed with information, before deciding on these sandboxes, I looked at who makes them, what materials, and the available options. I especially liked that it is a family business that has been manufacturing quality wooden playgrounds for years and that there are half a million homes with its products.

    Children’s sandboxes: a little piece of beach in our home.

    Perhaps you are thinking that having a sandbox at home is complicated, takes up a lot of space, or can generate chaos of sand everywhere. But the models that I have been looking at can be installed in the garden, terrace, balcony, or even inside the house without difficulty, and thanks to the models with cover, they leave the sand-covered when not in use.

    Like us, if you have outdoor space, you will surely love this more extensive and super fun model.

    A world of learning and enjoyment for children

    We learn through the senses. All our experience is perceived through them, and in childhood, experiencing takes a fundamental role. The body parts most sensitive to touch are the mouth, fingers, hands, and feet. One of the most important senses is Touch. It is the first to develop, allowing us to feel safe in different daily situations.

    When exploring the environment through touch, children learn about textures and size, thus differentiating the different elements that we are getting to know. Thanks to the clear information that touch gives us, we understand the differences of objects, and the cognitive system is activated.

    Thanks to a suitable sensation of the tactile stimulus, we protect ourselves; in the face of dangerous impulses.  We decide according to the characteristics of this or that object. Also, thanks to the touch, we develop motor skills, manipulation of objects; body coordination; motor planning. But in addition to this, touch gives us valuable information about the environment, our own body. It is fundamental in the neural representation of my body, actively participating in the mental configuration of my body scheme. Of the limits between the self and not-self.

    You will imagine then that when there are tactile difficulties. The child’s whole world is altered since his perceptions are inadequate, which can generate important disorders because it will limit his brain development to a world that perceives differently. Therefore his behavior may also observe how different it costs you to insert yourself in different environments.

    Enjoying with elements that provide different textures, such as sand, gives the possibility of awakening and tolerating certain aspects to incorporate them properly and to integrate the children sensually.

    This imaginative play helps to develop the imagination and configure the brain’s inhibitory activity, which prevents other parts from over-responding to sensory input. It allows children to concentrate better on a stimulus since when enjoying full of sand; the senses are discriminating for a specific function, leaving aside the corporal and tactile sensation that the sand provides. This helps to determine stimuli and to detect early difficulties of the type of tactile sensitization.

    Enjoying the wet or dry sand will help the children discover the environment and have adequate knowledge of their capacities.

    A “magic” material for learning

    As we say, vacations are a unique opportunity to observe children while they discover this natural material. So the best things parents can do are stay out of the way and relax, letting the children have fun handling the sand on their own. It is not necessary to offer them too structured games: often, they only need to pass the pimples from one hand to the other, rub them on the legs, take them and drop them. Actions that may seem trivial but for them are new and surprising.

    The main characteristic of sand is to transform: it is clear, light, and dry in the sun; compact, dark, and heavy when wet. For children’s formal schooling, it is pure magic, a prodigy that fascinates them and in which they feel they are protagonists because they think that they are the ones who have the power to change this material.

    Language skills

    Sand play is an enjoyable form of an independent game, but it is also an excellent way to interact with others. They are not only practicing social skills like taking turns and collaborating when young children share their sand toys or dig a hole together, but they are also using problem-solving and language skills. When enjoying the sea, especially if you are on vacation, of course, there are many people around. Although initially starting the game alone, other small children may approach and start playing together. In addition, their verbal evolutions also become more honed with the communication that is formed when children interact.

    Fine motor skills.

    When they do outdoor activities, kids do a lot of physical exercises with new ideas because they are constantly making movements and moving without stopping, for example, when collecting water or sand. When running, jumping, and walking, they develop gross motor skills. On the other hand, when children enjoy using the shovel and rake, when they put their hands and fingers in the sand looking for hidden objects, they develop fine motor development. According to the research, motor development is important for the child’s development and formation process. Their social capacities are enhanced, they learn to control their movements, and they acquire independence and talent to carry out small tasks.

    A doctor of psychological therapy said, one of the main benefits of children in this activity is to help them develop motor skills. When your little one comes into contact with this, feels its texture, forms something with both hands, or tries to walk on it, it helps their motor development. Plus, they have a lot of fun gaming!

    Gross Motor Skills

    Benefits of Playing with Sand

    There is nothing like watching children play in the sand for the first time. Seeing his/her eyes widen as he/she picks it up with basic understanding and lets it slide between her fingers slowly is magical. Play in the sand and water play is not only fun, but it is also quite valuable. Enjoying the sand provides several developmental benefits for infants and toddlers. Whether in a park or sandbox, or a sand table, with the sand and water play, can offer more than just a good time. Check out the many benefits of the game in the sand below.

    To start formal schooling, with the sand structures, sensory exploration or fine motor development.

    These are the three critical areas of sensory development that are strengthened by enjoying the sand play:

    Tactile sense

    This refers to your child’s senses of touch, pressure, temperature, and vibration detection. For example, when you explore warmer sand in the sun and more fantastic sand in the shade, you exercise your sense of touch.

    Vestibular sense

    This refers to your ability to understand how your body moves and balances on surfaces. For example, kneeling in the sand with a shovel in your hand helps you know how to move your weight, so you don’t fall.

    Proprioceptive sense

    This refers to being aware of the parts of your body and how they function in your environment. When we walk on an uneven surface without looking down or moving through a crowded room.  These are examples of our proprioceptive and vestibular senses working together with Play sand. Pushing a toy truck through the sand or emptying a bucket full of sand are examples of activities that strengthen these senses.

    Playing with sand encourages physical development

    To develop fine motor skills and creativity, enjoying in the sand is a great way, structure hand-eye coordination, and strengthen muscles. Your child exercises motor skills when he learns to hold a shovel in his hand correctly. And your gross motor skills are put to work when you try to lift a bucket full of sand. When enjoying in the sand, almost every moment is essential for his physical development and learning!

    Sand play develops creativity

    There are endless creative possibilities when it comes to enjoying the sand! You can follow the traditional castles, moats, mountains, or bridges. You can give it different shapes. By adding water to it, you can change the texture of the sand. Your child can create his little world in a sandbox!

    Enjoying with sand increases immunity

    If you are the type of parent who cringes at the thought of their kids getting dirty, you are not alone. Keeping them clean and healthy is part of the job! However, research shows that children who enjoy outdoors on grass, sand, or dirt have more beneficial immune systems than children who are constantly in sterile, indoor environments. Playing in the sand can boost your immunity and motor skills.

    With that said, it is always important to check the sand thoroughly. First, make sure the sand is free of debris, such as broken glass, if you are going to the park or the sandbox. Check for animal droppings or other objects that can produce harmful bacteria. If it smells funny or looks not so pleasing in color, maybe it’s best to skip the game in the sand that day! If you want to build a sandbox or sand table in your yard, there are some child-safe brands that you can find online or at your local construction and hardware store.

    Improves concentration and relaxes them

    This material fascinates and captures children’s attention, making them concentrate on the game. Depending on their age, they can stay and handle it even for a long time; among other things, an activity that has a relaxing and calming power, ideal to do before even putting them to sleep. 

    Not only enjoying and feeling textures. Usually, children will start to be creative with this. Make sandcastles your little one’s primary target. When he tried to form a palace, that’s where his strength was honed—lifting this from the mold trains the small muscles to stay active. While the target of completing the sandcastle is also to increase children’s concentration, they tend to complete sandcastle projects before moving on to other activities.

    Bottom Line

    Going out to play in the park, the sea, or the field, in short, planning play activities favors children’s creativity, autonomy, and social evolution. Parents can take advantage of the desire to experiment and know that children have to learn and stimulate their development through sand play and water play. Allowing children to get wet in water, touching and experimenting with sand, making shapes, checking its texture, and finding out what happens when they get wet. To prepare activities related to the game in the sand and the water, you can use educational objects such as shovels, rakes, buckets, watering cans, or molds to help them develop more imagination in the moments of games.

    You can organize sand and water games with your children throughout the year and not only on the beach but also in the park and teachers can prepare them in the schoolyard. We have also created educational toys to play with sand, water, and snow, promoting coordination of movements and enhancing imagination and creativity.

    If you like this article about Playing with Sand and would like to know more, please comment below.

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    Sarah Thomas - Co-Creator of CraftyThinking

    Hi, I'm Sarah!

    CraftyThinking is all about striving to inspire creativity in children by allowing them to explore their creative side through art and crafts.

    We are about helping parents give their children an outlet to explore their creativity without worrying about the mess or time commitment!

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