Summer Outside Fun, Play, and Learning in the Sandbox

Not all summer days are hot and sunny, but even on cool and cloudy ones kids can enjoy some outside fun and learning playtime in the sandbox.

outside play time in the sandbox or beachA sandbox can also be practically any container with some sand in it. That might be an old kiddie pool, a big plastic bin, a half-barrel, big tire, a large wooden drawer, or even an old boat. A sturdy bookshelf turned on its side with the shelves removed also makes a container for a sandbox. There are some wonderful pictures of different sandboxes on Yes Spaces. Or, the sandbox could also be a beach.

What is some of the early learning fun and development that happens in the sandbox? All that digging, filling, scooping, pouring, carrying, dumping, and more promotes muscle development. Hands and arms need to coordinate with what brains want to do. For skeptics, that don’t believe how much muscle power is involved, try shovelling some sand in the yard and check on your muscles the next day. Science happens as kids see how sand makes a cone when piled up, how it passes thru big and small holes, and how heavy it feels. Measuring is early math and kids play with the concept of more and less. As kids share materials and spaces they are practicing language and social skills.

While the sand is kept inside the walls of the container, more or less, the imagination is free to go anywhere. The sandbox can be a pretend ship, kitchen, construction site, or entirely different planet. Children build more than castles, they are also building some important thinking skills such as problem-solving, negotiating, guessing (predicting) what might happen, observing, and others. Scooping sand into a pail until it is full right to the top is an early form of goal setting.

This and more can happen as kids play outside in the sandbox. What sort of container does your child use for sand? What are some of the toys and tools that are your sandbox?

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