We don’t have a lot of sand on the beaches we use for Beach School here in East Kent. But when it appears with the ebbing tide it is always a huge draw for our participants. And rightly so – sand is an absolutely glorious learning material. No preparation required, just get stuck in.
Playing with sand is completely open-ended – the child determines the direction and path of their own play. There is no right way to use it, so sand invites participation, collaboration and provokes the imagination. Sand play promotes physical development – gross muscle skills can develop through digging, pouring, sifting and scooping. Eye-hand coordination and small muscle control can develop as children learn to manipulate the sand with hands or with tools (at Beach School we just use steel kitchen utensils and spades from the our local RNLI shop, nothing expensive or fancy). It can also provide a soothing sensory experience for many, try letting it slowly trickle through your fingers. .
We’re exceptionally lucky to have a setting where our sand play area is completely provided by nature. We celebrate the excavators, architects, engineers and builders it effortlessly creates. But sand play can be incorporated almost anywhere. I have so much gratitude for its limitless potential for learning.
If you are interested in how we learn at Beach School, you can read the whole Beach Schooled series here.