Everyone loves sand! that is unless you are shaking it out of socks and shoes or sweeping it off the floor. Sand has to be the oldest, cheapest and most plentiful manipulative that exists. Combine the sand with water and the opportunities for outdoor play and learning multiply. By mixing sand, water and imagination all kinds of things can be created, but for now let’s just focus on geography. The Early Learning Standards point out that children are learning geography when they are exposed to land and water forms. Preschool children can use sand and water to make a mountain, valley, canyon, plateau, island, lake, ocean, desert or river. Can they read the word? not yet; can they write the word? not yet; can they say the word, maybe. But they definitely can experience it–by manipulating sand and water they gain an understanding of the various land and water forms. It may look like child’s play, but it is also the beginning study of the physical structures of the earth, otherwise known as geography.