Sand is always a winner with my baby girl. My baby boy is not such a fan. But I love watching them play in it, whether we are on a beach on vacation or the local playground. I had no idea there were so many benefits of sand play. Overall, by playing in sand, kids can develop a number of physical and social skillsets, such as the following areas:
- Creativity: A kid has so many opportunities to get creative with sand, making patterns, drawing designs in the sand, digging and raking the sand. You can change the texture of sand by adding water or mould shapes using sand toys! I ordered a few sand toys from Amazon for the kids; although previously, I would take disposable cups and spoons.(1,2)
- Socialisation and Language: Playing in the sand is a great form of independent play, but it’s also a great way to get the kiddies to interact with others. Examples include playing and collaborating with other children, sharing play spaces, watching others play and joining in, problem-solving, digging holes and sharing toys. When toddlers share sand toys or dig a hole together, they’re not only practicing social skills like turn-taking and cooperation, but also developing problem-solving and language skills as well. They may communicate with other kids, describe the sand play activities, and listen to parents and other kids while playing.(1,2)
- Physical: Playing in the sand is terrific for developing motor skills, building hand-eye coordination, and strengthening muscles. Children exercise their fine motor skills when they learn how to properly hold a shovel in her hand. Almost every movement is significant to her physical development when engaging in sand play.(1,2)
- Sensory: There are three key sensory areas that develop. 1. Tactile sense or sense of touch (i.e., she will differentiate warmer sand in the sun and cooler sand in the shade and understand different textures of sand – dry, damp, wet). 2. Vestibular sense (i.e., she will understand how her body moves and balances by kneeling in the sand with a shovel in her hand and understand how to move her weight without falling over). 3. Proprioceptive sense or awareness of her body parts (i.e., when we navigate a crowded room or walk on an uneven surface without looking down, those are examples of our proprioceptive and vestibular senses working together. Pushing a toy truck through the sand or pouring sand from a bucket are both examples of activities that strengthen these senses).(1,2)
- Immunity: Playing in the sand can actually boost their immunity. Research shows that kids who play outdoors in the grass, sand, or dirt have healthier immune systems than kids that are constantly in sterile, indoor environments. That said, it is important to always inspect the sand thoroughly. If you’re going to the beach, a playground, or a sandbox, make sure the sand is free of debris or anything else dangerous or that produces harmful bacteria. (1,2)
- Developmental Benefits of Sand Play. Baby Sparks. 2019. https://babysparks.com/2019/10/21/developmental-benefits-of-sand-play.
- McKiliroy, Tanja. 10 Amazing Benefits of Sand Play. Empowered Parents. 2021.https://empoweredparents.co/10-things-your-child-is-learning-in-the-sandpit/