Children love the tactile experience of touching and swirling sand through their fingers and toes. The sheer pleasure of playing in sand is enough to keep them entertained for long periods of time, and in doing so they are also learning about a multitude of things.
Children’s exploration of sand allows them to make sense of the physical world: they see what happens when they put dry sand through the funnel; they discover that they have to pull down on the pulley’s rope to make a bucket go up. Digging tunnels through sand and building sandcastles are forms of early engineering.
Ideas for Exploring Sand
Use sand to explore spatial relationships. What holds more? How many cups of sand are there in a bucket/container? Pour sand into different containers and compare.
How long does it take different amounts of sand to flow through a funnel? a sieve? Do different sizes of funnels and sieves make a difference? Does wet sand move faster than dry sand? Will dry or wet sand make the best sand castle? Weigh different amounts of wet and dry sand and discuss.
Make patterns in dry and wet sand – which lasts longer? Why? As they put sand in water and water in sand children find out that some substances remain themselves when mixed together whereas others change, sometimes temporarily and sometimes for good.