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Sand and Water Play

Sand and Water Play Supports Children's Development

Sensory play – including play with sand, water is an important part of the child care classroom or family child care home. Children exploring in the sensory center are learning some important skills.

  • Math and science skills: Sand and water play introduces scientific concepts such as sinking, floating, and changes of state (e.g., dry to wet). Exploring sand, water, and other sensory materials gives children opportunities to practice measuring and explore other math concepts such as more, less, bigger, smaller, and equal.
  • Physical development: Children playing with sand and water are practicing eye-hand coordination and using fine motor skills to scoop, sift, funnel, and pour. 
  • Social and emotional skills: The sand and water center provides important opportunities for children to practice cooperative play and sharing. It also helps children explore and enjoy the sensory experience of manipulating fluid materials. Digging in sand or splashing water can also reduce the energy level of overexcited children and provide an acceptable way for them to vent anger or frustration.

Here are some ways children benefit from playing with sand and the skills they can develop and practice:

  • Development of fine motor skills
  • Hand & eye coordination – watching and doing and coordinating these actions
  • Promotes creativity and imagination – using wet sand to mould sand into different shapes and objects, use coloured sand to make patterns, or use a fork, small rake or pencil to draw designs in the sand
  • Sensory- development of the sense of touch through feeling and manipulating objects and moulding the sand. Try different types of sand; dry sand, wet sand, moon sand, sand foam, etc.
  • Socialization – children love sand so it creates a great gathering place that encourages children to communicate, work together, share, be creative and witness other children being creative
  • Language development – playing with sand is a social activity requiring speaking and listening, which helps develop vocabulary
  • Overcoming challenges – problem solving