Guest post: Keep Active, Keep playing and have fun with sand 

January 10, 2014 Off By Laura TMOT
The holiday seasons are over and it’s time to start planning for the sunny months ahead… that’s if the British weather stays away!  The warmer months are a great time to stay active and get outdoors with your children, it’s a lot of fun and it has lots of advantages too.

Children love to play, it’s something that comes naturally to them and it’s a great form of early learning, it helps a little ones psychological and physical development. It’s easy to settle for television, computers and games consoles to entertain your children but it’s not going to help them in the long run! And this is why it’s never been more important to influence natural, fun and imaginative play.

One great way to get active and develop amongst many others is through sand play, it’s full of advantages and it’s readily available for everyone. Whether this is at your local playground, in your garden or at the beach! Sand has many therapeutic values to both adults and children and it’s been used to teach and play for century’s.

Sand play helps motor skills and coordination!

All types of play help to develop your little ones coordination, sand play is just one of these ways but it is one of the best  for early learning. Sand play helps to develop two vital parts of coordination, this is Bilateral Coordination and Hand-eye coordination… Bilateral is using both sides of your body together in a symmetrical way, this is going to be used when your baby first starts to hold an object with both hands or even when they take their first steps.

Bilateral coordination is learnt naturally however it can be influenced through play, using a rolling pin or lifting a bucket of sand both teach Bilateral coordination and we recommend using tools and buckets with your play sessions to have a greater impact as well as to develop early muscle growth and motor skills.

Sand play also has an influence on a child’s hand-eye coordination, this has a great effect on many aspects of their life from writing and drawing to tying shoelaces. When they play in the sand the movements and activities involved are great for developing the ability to tell distance, shape and texture which are all vital parts of hand-eye coordination.

Get Social in the Sandpit!

When children play, in the sand it’s usually a social activity and revolves around basic communication and role playing. These are two important aspects of play and help to develop speech and how your little one interacts with others.

When a child plays they usually follow the SRD development steps these are seeing, reflecting and doing. At an early age they are very analytical and they learn through analysis of others actions and their own trial and error. Communication is an important aspect of this and how a child socialises and fits in with other children is learnt from these steps as well as the child’s own judgement.

Because sand play can let adults, children, siblings and friends play together in a close environment it’s a fantastic way to play and it teaches more than just communication. When children create sculptures and make role playing games with the sand it teaches them basic task management and completion, from pretending to bake cakes with the sand to finishing their creations. Remember to get them to clean up and put the tools away after you are done playing as this will also aid in this aspect of development.

Get Artistic and Create!

Sand is a great material to add to your craft activities at home and is also a brilliant way to get artistic at a young age. It’s important to help children express themselves in as many ways as possible, and one of these ways is through art.

Why not add other materials to the sand to offer more diversity in the creation, you can try adding food dye, PVC glue or water. You can even draw in the sand and add different colours to create portraits. Sand itself is an incredibly artistic material, and if you have ever seen sand under a magnifying glass you will see all the different colours and shapes that create it.

What are you waiting for?

So what are you waiting for! why not get down to your local beach or playground to get playing, it is vital to remember the importance of play in your young ones routine and to not forget the importance of their energy and passion to have fun and learn.

If you would like any more advice or ideas feel free to leave a comment below, alternatively you can contact me on simon@gardengames.co.uk or go to my sandpit website for help on buying a sandpit, what sand to use and how to keep it safe for your children.

Please see my Disclosure page for more information about this post.