If you have ever been to the beach then you have witnessed the allure of sand. People young and old are digging, building and playing in the sand. Sand is naturally intriguing due to its open-ended qualities. Every grain of sand leads to endless possibilities. This makes a sandbox a great choice for outdoor exploration.
Why is sand so fun?
It is soothing
I have observed many children letting sand run through their fingers, watching as the sand tumbles down to the ground. They squeeze the sand, mold the sand and even bury themselves in the sand. This sensory exploration is very soothing for many children allowing them to get their whole bodies involved.
It has many characteristics
Sand responds differently depending on the amount of moisture in it. Dry sand flows beautifully through a sand wheel. Try a sand wheel with wet sand and all that will happen is the sand will get stuck. Wet sand is malleable. You can pack wet sand and form it into a variety of designs. Wet sand is also great for digging holes. If you dig in dry sand, it will cave in filling the hole quicker than you can dig.
The sandbox can be enhanced with materials
Because sand is such an open-ended item, you can enhance and extend children’s play by providing different types of materials. While shovels and buckets tend to be the traditional choice of sand play, there are so many more options that can be tailored to the interests of the children.
My son is one of the children who spend hours on the beach creating with the sand. When I asked him why he loves sand play he replied “because it doesn’t have any rules and you really don’t know what you are making until it is done.” A great quote that illustrates sand’s creative aspect.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the sandbox when I will explore different materials that can be offered for sand play.