Playing in the sand can be a great opportunity for children to have unstructured play time.
Whether shaped into castles, dug, dripped, sifted, or buried, sand can take many different forms, thus offering endless opportunities for fun and learning!
Allowing your child to play in the sand by themselves and with others helps them to develop fine motor skills like those necessary to use a small shovel, pull a truck, and build a castle or moat. By burying themselves in sand, and feeling their body position within the sand, children are engaging their proprioceptive sense, or the sense of their body relative to space. Writing words in the sand offers a chance to develop language skills. Parents can ask questions to capitalize on the language play that can occur in the sand.
Play can also help children develop social skills like problem solving, sharing, and communicating.
Sand play offers a limited amount of space and toys for children to share while accomplishing goals they set for themselves like building a castle together.
Mom and daughter playing with toys in sand
One of the benefits of a contained space like a sandbox is that depending on the age of their child, caregivers can supervise children from a short distance and create an independent play experience. This type of natural and casual separation between parent and child can build trust and confidence.
As long as children continue to feel safe and are not under the impression they’ve been left behind, brief independent play opportunities can lessen separation anxiety and promote healthy parent-child attachment.
“Sand play is particularly beneficial for developing a sense of textures. Not only is sand a new and different texture for children to feel on their skin, but the contrast it creates with concrete, grass, dirt, and wood will emphasize the sensation of each surface.”
Mrs Clara says
Potential social and developmental positives of unstructured outdoor play
Before any outdoor activity, it’s necessary to take certain precautions, and we’ve outlined some safety tips for sand play below. Though there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the healthiness of sand play, like at the beach or in a sandbox outweigh the risks.