Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Benefits of Sandpit Play

The Little Yellow Digger is the house favourite! When little yellow digger gets stuck in the mud, a range of bigger diggers are sent to finish the job. The rhyming verse, with repetitions, makes it a pleasure to read aloud and my boys take great delight in joining in. After reading this to the boys this morning they were very keen to get outside and initiate their own role-play situation in the sandpit. As you can see from the photos they were very busy working together to help the digger that was stuck.... they even needed to call for the Fire Engine!

The sandpit is a great opportunity for Social, Emotional and Language development. While playing in the sand children use communication skills as they talk about what they are doing and how to do things. They share equipment and learn to get on with each other. As they role play and work together this also provides an opportunity for story telling in the sand.

Toddlers love the sand pit and will spend hours digging, building, scooping, carrying, molding, and scraping. There are dozens of great sand pit toys you can introduce, all of which help your child develop gross and fine motor skills. Playing in the sand provides opportunities for the children to develop their muscles when they dig, shovel, lift, carry, tunnel, and rake. These kinds of activities help develop the large muscles – gross motor. Pouring, sifting, moulding, drawing, patting, and decorating all help exercise the smaller muscles – fine motor.

Sand pit play develops an understanding of basic science and maths concepts. Sand play helps develop concepts such as exploring, classifying, estimating, experimenting, comparing, counting, measuring and constructing. Before long they will take their sandpit skills into the garden!

Good sandpit toys include:

Buckets of different shapes and sizes
Small spades for scooping
Large spades for digging
Watering Cans
Plastic pipes which can be used for tunnels
Diggers and Dump Trucks
Old Kitchen utensils such as potato mashers, spoons, sifters, strainers, scales, funnels
Different sized containers like drink bottles, yoghurt containers, ice cream tubs, flower pots Natural materials like rocks, large shells, bits of wood, leafy branches, water

  • Vary the objects that you leave in the sandpit for your children to play with and see where it takes their imagination!
    - leave shells, feather, bucket, spade (sandcastle play)
    - leave small cars and card board/cardboard tubes (motor way play/tunnel play)
    - cooking utensils and a big pot (witches brew)
    - paint brushes and dinosaur bones (create a dinosaur dig)

    How to take Care of your Sandpit

    Children can spend hours playing and having fun in the sandpit. If a sandpit is not looked after it could end up being a place that makes children sick. The following are some ideas on how to keep your sand pit clean and safe for the children to play in.

    • Rake the sandpit every morning and in the afternoon.
    • Keep the sandpit covered when it is not being used (shade cloth is good).
    • Rain can help to clean the sand but only if it can drain out of the sand. During the dry
    season wash the sand with tap water every now and then.
  • Sunlight is the best way to sanitise a sandpit. If your sandpit is in the shade all day you could use a mild detergent or household disinfectant. Follow the instructions for washing floors and surfaces that are on the container. A watering can is a good tool to help spread the solution over the sandpit. Do not add bleach to the sand as this may cause allergic reactions in children.
  • It is more important to keep the sandpit clean and dry than to regularly disinfect it.

Here’s a fun activity...

Sandpit volcanoes are a fun scientific activity to do with children in the sandpit.

You will need:
Bicarb soda
Food colouring

Rake the sandpit before you start
Add red food colouring to the Vinegar
Build a mound in the sand – this will be the volcano
Using your fingers put a hole in the top and fill with bicarb soda
Pour in some vinegar and watch it explode
Make a few volcanoes around your sandpit as the bicarb and vinegar can act as a mild cleaning agent.


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