sand play

Digging for Treasure: Dragon Sensory Imaginative Play

Treasure, whether dragon or pirate, sometimes gets buried and digging for treasure is fun for kids with some dragon sensory imaginative play. Adults too; think of gold digging or excavating.

sensory play digging

With their huge claws, digging is pretty easy for dragons. It’s harder for kids. If you live somewhere warm enough so the yard isn’t covered in rain or snow, kids can play in the sandbox. If not, this can be done inside too. For indoor play, fill a large bowl or other container with kinetic sand. You can find recipes to make your own at home using sand, cornstarch, liquid soap, and water. There are lots of recipes on line.

Either inside or outside, the first thing is to find some small items to be treasure. Some suggestions are small stones, plastic figurines, spools from thread, beads, and play coins. For outside sand boxes these can be larger than for play inside. Since all the sand will be in a container, it’s possible to put in some real coins, like a quarter or two and smaller things like marbles and plastic colored gems. With your child, count the treasure so you know when it’s all found. You can also use a cupcake tin or an egg carton. Before burying, put one treasure in each section. If there’s an empty space later something is still hiding in the sand.

sensory play sand

Kids like to both bury the treasure and then find it. Shovels are great for sand boxes and spoons will do for bowls. Fingers can also dig and sift through the sand. If you have an old strainer, kids can pour in shovelfuls or spoonfuls of sand. A few shakes, the sand sifts out, and all that’s left is the treasure.

This dragon sensory imaginative play activity combines sensory play and make-believe. Skin gets to feel the sand, eyes both see the the treasure and get to seek it. There’s some stimulation for hearing but not much for smell and none for taste—we hope. Kids can imagine they are looking for dragon treasure or they might want to be the dragon who is burying it. Plus, thinking skills like problem-solving and concentration come into play. Kids are communicating and working to achieve a goal, that of finding the treasure. For kid-dragons, isn’t the best treasure the play itself?

Fun and Learning Bus Activities #5: Bus Sensory Play

A bus and a sandbox = bus sensory play. While this might be a simple formula for sensory play, it’s also two for one. Kids are not just exploring the sand, but also their own reactions and senses. There’s a lot happening on the outside and on the inside.

sand and dirt science play

The wheels on the bus go round and round. In the sandbox or on the dirt pile they also go up and down and over. While the wheels go, so do the senses. Stimulation for the sense of touch is the most obvious. The sand, dirt, or rocks feel rough and cool. Besides the texture, there is resistance and children’s muscles respond. There’s interaction and feedback about what’s the right amount of force to use for pushing. A small bit of sand, dirt, or rock barely weighs anything, but a whole big amount is pretty heavy and dense. The sun, temperature, and air are also part of the touch experience.

nature and sand play

Eyes are busy watching the bus and the hands. The wheels make patterns and lines in the sand. The sand, dirt, and rocks may not make much noise but ears are picking up sounds in the yard or neighborhood, like cars, people, birds, dogs, and more. If you want proof, just open something to eat in the house and notice how soon your child scurries inside. Hopefully, the sense of taste isn’t involved, but there may be smells of dirt and the immediate area.

outside play with transportation toys

Sensory play activates the brain. Young children often engage in this type of play. Brains are also solving-problems, testing ideas, observing, gathering information, planning, and creating connections and pathways. In EarlyChildhood News, Angie Dorrell writes, “Sensory experiences provide children with the opportunity to feel good about their decision-making skills – they control their actions and the experience. Self-discovery occurs as children become eager scientists.”

bus sensory play sand

This sand + bus sensory play adds up to a great activity for brains and bodies. How do you rate this play-of-the-day?

Olympic Games #9: Sand Play Activities for Kids – Beach Optional

Now that the Olympic Games include beach volleyball, it’s time to play in the sand. Beaches are fun but not necessary for sand play activities for kids.


Just like water play (see yesterday’s Water Play Activities for Kids), there are many ways for kids to play in the sand. Of course, what could be more fun than digging all day and making sand castles at the beach? Time at the beach is a summer highlight for many families. But kids can make their own small beaches right at home.

Some fortunate kids have an entire sandbox in their backyard. If not, many communities have sandy areas in parks or playgrounds. Even small quantities of sand are fun. Pour some into a container like a big bowl or bin. Spoons, pails, plastic shovels, scoops, cups, and sieves are great tools for scooping, molding, piling, digging, pouring, creating and more.

sand play activities for kids

Sand play is sensory. Most skin on the body enjoys feeling sand. When you think about walking on the beach, do your toes start to curl? (Sand can hurt and irritate eyes so kids may need to be reminded not to throw.) A handful of sand is light, but a pailful is heavy. Ears have to listen closely to hear the sounds of sand when pouring and scooping. Besides touch and hearing, sand stimulates sight too. There’s lots to see even if it’s mostly the same color.

Sand play activities stimulate imaginations. Who lives in the sand castle? There could be kings or dragons. Kids enjoy playing in sand with dinosaurs and small plastic animals. They like to build roads and create towns and cities, or farms and zoos. Children’s actions as they play with sand are often repetitive, such as filling a pail and pouring it out over and over. This serves a tremendously important brain function, allowing some parts to take a break while other parts connect and sort out learning.

young children and organized sports

Of course, it’s also fun to kick or toss a ball around in the sand. How does your child like to play with sand?

Kids Play with Anything #12: Child’s Play with Sand and Dirt

Sand and dirt. Play with sand and dirt is as old as… well, as old as the hills. Children’s play is sensory, exploratory, creative, and imaginary.On the sensory level, our whole bodies feel the texture and temperature of sand and dirt. Unless some gets into footwear, clothing, and eyes our skin enjoys the touch, especially … Continue reading Kids Play with Anything #12: Child’s Play with Sand and Dirt

Leprechaun Sensory Play for Young Children

Crafts and green snacks are not the only way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. For a play-of-the-day, here is an idea for leprechaun sensory play for kids. Leprechauns like gold and shiny things so we started the sensory play with a search thru the button box. Both Big Sister and Little Sister love to look … Continue reading Leprechaun Sensory Play for Young Children