Why play with sand?

Sand’s versatility and open-ended nature make it an ideal material for children to play with. The versatility of sand is exhibited by its numerous uses in different subject areas. From math to social studies to science and even to language arts, the teacher can think of many ways to integrate sand play into the curriculum. Not only that, sand play does not limit itself to merely one manner of execution—sand play is subject to different interpretations and manipulations, thereby making it both a highly usable and enjoyable medium to play with.


Megan flips over a pail of sand.

What can children learn from playing with sand?

Sensory experiences help young children learn about the world around them. Touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing—stimulating the senses helps strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning by sending different signal to children’s brains. In sand play, the sense of touch is heightened—children can dig their fingers and toes in the sand, giving them a ticklish sensation unique to sand.


Ally packs sand into a mold with a hand shovel.

Fine motor skills are also enhanced as children scoop, cup, sprinkle, pour, shovel, dig, pat, smoothen, and pack sand with their hands and fingers. The manipulation of sand toys helps to increase fine motor development as well.


Basti gets a feel of the sand with his fingers.

Social skills are also developed as sand encourages interaction between children.

Sand play helps to awaken the imagination of children by providing them with opportunities to engage in dramatic play as they “build” and “cook”. They can stretch their creativity even more by enacting different scenarios together as in a birthday party or a New Year’s celebration.


Sand Play is Beneficial

Providing children the opportunity to play with sand can help them in more ways than one. Its open-ended nature is recognized by children as they direct their own experiences with sand play. Many options are available when playing with sand. Teachers, parents, and guardians can help to maximize children’s sand play experience by being aware themselves of such benefits.

Check out more photos of Preschool A’s fun with sand and the playground in this album.


Crosser, S. (n.d.). Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center.Earlychildhood NEWS. Retrieved August 6, 2012, from

Gainsley, S. (2011). Look, Listen, Touch, Feel, Taste: The Importance of Sensory Play.Extensions. Retrieved from


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