5 Ways to Expand Sandbox Play
Sandboxes are a great sensory area for young children to explore. We have played in big and small sandboxes and in general I would say, the bigger the better. If you can sit down surrounded by sand and squish your whole body into it, that is the perfect size. However big or small your sandbox might be, there are lots of fun ways to expand play.
Most toddlers start by filling buckets and dumping them out. This is important work. Provide tools for them to dump and a variety of sized bowls, buckets, and cups for them to fill and dump. Encourage and respect this play. They are exploring the material - how it feels, the weight of it, how it fits into spaces. Eventually, after a few days or weeks of constant filling and dumping your child(ren) is likely to loose interest. This is when you want to have some other ideas on hand to add to the environment. Here are five of our favorite ways to play in the sandbox.
1 Add Toys to the Sandbox
Add items that spark imagination to your sandbox. Trucks, small people, and other washable toys are a fun addition to the sandbox. Especially for younger toddlers who need concrete materials for imaginative play, these can be a perfect place to start.
2 Add Loose Parts
A while ago we shared this post about loose parts we have used with our toddlers. Many of these can be added to outdoor sand exploration as well. Children will use loose parts in a million inventive ways if they are available. They might pretend acorns are food they are cooking or sticks are a road. Flower petals can become a garden in the sandbox or fairies dancing. Offer a variety in some bowls and see how they use them.
3 Sand & Water
This is a messy one, but so much fun. Water and sand interact with each other in ways that fascinate little scientists. Allow them to pour and mix and explore the oozie, mucky affect of water on sand. This one reminds us of the beach. Wetting the sand even a little allows you to experiment with molds or building in ways dry sand cannot be manipulated.
4 Cooking in the Sandbox
Our twins LOVE to cook, so we have done activities similar to this in a variety of medium. This is often a play scheme that toddlers will naturally happen on to, but adding some bowls, spoons, and shakers can encourage their play. Combining these materials with loose parts, as mentioned above, is also a great way to expand this interest. I love this one for the social element it often adds to the play.
5 Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses are a fun way to encourage gross motor movement and development. One of our favorites is the Up and Down Obstacle Course. We also do them outside from time to time and including the sandbox can add a fun sensory element. Set up a typical obstacle course (going over things, under things, through things, etc) and work the sandbox into the middle somewhere. Some options for the sandbox include:
*bury your feet before you move to the next thing
*fill a bucket with sand and carry it to the finish
*find a buried treasure
*drive a truck from one side to the other
How do you play in your sandbox? What are your child's favorite materials?
comments powered by Disqus