Where there is water, there will be sand! That is very much the image Singaporeans may have when thinking that one is at the beach, something that we have a lot of as an island country. Sand castle building is perhaps a common activity for young children since a visit to the beach is probably a common weekend activity. However, the beach is not the only place that one can find sand. It is not as common now but in the past, sand was used as a common surface for playgrounds. Now, it is not as easy to find such a playground. However, these two places are very common visits for families with toddlers and preschoolers, and therefore, apart from water play, sand play is another great activity to have with preschoolers. Sand play, like water play, is a very tactile activity but like water play, caution must be taken to ensure the safety of our young learners. So what can preschoolers learn when they play with sand?
Just like water play, sand play as a tactile activity provides a sensory experience for toddlers and preschoolers. Sand that is dry and warm under the hot sun feels very different from sand that is cooled and wet after water has been poured on it. It can also feel very different from the sand that is drenched with the sea water that has come in contact with it (this would smell different too!) This change in sensory experience with the addition of water also changes the state of sand and allows for children to explore the different ways they could use this material. Apart from feeling it on our hands, we can also feel the sand on our feet. As the sand is soft on our skin, we can feel safe for toddlers and preschoolers to take off their shoes and feel the sand with their feet. One thing to note is that we do have to be careful of other objects buried in the sand that may be sharp and therefore dangerous for them. Nonetheless, walking and running on sand is a great activity as it also creates a very different sensation compared to walking and running on flat roads. It is a lot more difficult and tedious to move around on sand. As adults, we must have experienced times where our feet and legs feel a little lighter when we step onto flat land after playing on sand for too long. The amount of energy required to move ourselves off from sand requires a lot more energy. Therefore, walking and running on sand will help children to work on their gross motor development. It will also enhance their sense of balance, increase their understanding of their body movements and help to strengthen the muscles around their foot and ankle. At the same time, if they do fall on sand, it is also not as painful as falling on the roads and pavements. Other than these examples, we could also explore putting parts of our bodies deep into the sand. The feeling of having parts of our body buried under the sand is a sensation to be explored too.
Most of the sand areas found in Singapore are in the outdoors, therefore it will allow for children to walk around or run around on the sand itself. However, where these sand areas are far or difficult to reach on a daily basis, there may be some places that provide sand play in the form of a sandpit or in sand boxes. These sandpits or sand boxes may not allow children to put themselves into these areas. However, in such cases, playing with sand can still develop different parts of children’s motor development. Similar to water play, providing them with tools that can transfer sand from one object to another is a great way to develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordinations. They will work on both their gross motor for arms and fine motor skills as they will need to grasp tools like shovels.
As mentioned above, sand play is very often associated with sand castle building. The change of state of the sand with the addition of water makes it a suitable material for children to play around with forming different objects. This activity gives children an opportunity to be creative and imaginative. There is no need to provide them with loads of building tools. Instead, provide them with some materials that are open-ended and allow them to use their creativity and their problem-solving skills to use these tools to form and build something that they want to. At the same time, during these building activities, there are a lot of opportunities to discuss with the toddler or the preschooler about what they are doing. This gives rise to opportunities to bring in new words, letting them have the opportunity to learn about new vocabulary. After completion, they may be able to tell you a story about what they have made or create a story from what they have made and these would also help them to exercise their language and literacy skills. As much as sand play can be an individual activity, it can also be a group activity. They could be playing with family members or they could be playing with other children whom they may have just met at the playground. Therefore, children will also pick up social skills during sand play activities as they learn to work together with others as well as how to take turns or share with others.
Playing with sand can be quite a messy affair, especially with wet sand. If you are open to it, letting them feel the sand with their whole body would allow our preschoolers (and maybe you too) to have a great time! However, even if you are not a fan of messy play, there is no need to give up on sand play totally as you can still introduce sand using sand boxes or sandpit instead so it will be easier to clean up.
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Our infant care at Tampines have over 10 years of experience in caring for your beloved infants aged 2 months to 18 months old. Check out our Tampines infant care’s testimonials regarding the care that parents’ infants have received at Nurture Infant House.
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Nurture Infant House (2 to 18 months Infants)
Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-61 Singapore 520433
Genesis Childcare 1989 (Playgroup to Kindergarten 2)
Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-63/65 Singapore 520433
Opening hours: Monday to Friday (7am to 7pm) & Saturday (7am to 2pm)
Public Bus services: 8 / 21 / 28 / 29 / 293