Learning Through Play

Sand and Water

Child in Sandpit

Sand and Sandpits

Playing with sand can be very therapeutic for children. If you do not want to buy a sandpit then you could try filling an old tyre with sand or even an old washing up bowl or baby bath.

Silver sand is preferable to builder's sand which can stain clothing or skin. Sand kept outdoors needs to be kept covered as cats like to use sandpits as litter trays.

You can clean sand by using a solution of baby bottle sterilizer.

Children can be tempted to throw sand, so it is advisable to have the rule that it must not be thrown. If it should get in someone's eyes, rinse with plenty of cold water.

Ideas for Sand Play

Playing with sand provides many learning opportunities. Many water play containers can also be used in sand.


Since dry sand and wet sand behave in different ways, it is worth giving your child experience of both. Junk materials such as yoghurt pots or boxes, as well as shapes which can be used as moulds aid manipulative skills. And let's not forget buckets and spades. All these can be used for counting activities, looking at shapes and comparing weights and lengths.

A set of old scales or a balance scales are excellent for estimation and comparison of weights. The activities lend themselves to exploring the language of capacity such as 'more than', 'less than', 'empty' and 'full'.

Safety Disclaimer

Children should always be supervised by an adult when playing in or with water.

Continued in Part 4 of Learning Through Sand and Water Play.
Back to Part 2.