Many of us have fond memories of sand playgrounds from when we were children.
Although sand playgrounds may not be as common these days, there are still many of them around – as well as numerous beaches.
Why is sand play important and why should it be incorporated into a preschooler’s play time? Do preschools in Singapore offer this as part of their curriculum?
The benefits of sand play and learning through play
Sensory play in our children’s preschool years is a great way to engage their five senses, which ties in with the way we learn and retain information.
According to UNICEF, play is one of the most important and effective ways where children gain essential knowledge and skills. From mimicking how their parents cook in the kitchen to building the blocks of vocabulary, grammar and counting, play-based learning is meaningful and actively engages a child’s instinct to learn.
Sand play offers all of these benefits.
Sand play helps with sensory development
Sand is an extremely tactile ‘toy’. In order to interact with sand, children squish it between their fingers, step on it, pat it, and mould it into shapes. They can dig tunnels in sand or pour them into a bucket.
The way sand feels on their fingers, and the understanding of how sand works – that adding water makes it clump together, or that it is made up of tiny grains – is developed through their tactile sense.
Sand play helps with physical development
Walking and balancing on sand may be simple for an adult, but for smaller children, it is an important motor skill they must pick up. They learn how to dig their toes into the sand for balance.
Sand is also heavy, and scooping sand up in a shovel and conveying it to a bucket helps to build muscle mass. As they learn to shape the sand and put finer details into their creations, their motor skills and hand-eye coordination improve over time.
Sand play builds creativity
Sand play provides our preschoolers with endless possibilities. You may be surprised by the ideas your children can come up with.
Other than the usual sandcastles and moats, children may make various interesting shapes. They may pretend to cook with it, stirring sand in a container, and adding leaves and sticks to it to make it multi-textural. As they engage in make-believe play, they stretch their imaginations and creative instincts.
Sand play encourages problem-solving skills
When children play, they constantly need to figure out how to solve problems. They may figure out how to fit a certain number of items into a container, or how to get blocks to stay in a tower.
When their sandcastle crumbles due to a lack of structural integrity, they may have to rethink the proportions of sand and water, or the shape of their structure. They would have to try and try again to get their sand shapes to come out of the mould in one piece.
These challenges are useful in getting them to make logical deductions and conclusions!
Sand play can help with mathematics concepts
One benefit of sand play is that it is a great way to introduce simple concepts like volume.
How many scoops of sand will it take to fill one bucket?
What about a smaller bucket – will it need more scoops, or fewer?
These concepts do not actually require explicit instruction. In fact, as children play and explore on their own, they will figure out the basics of these concepts as they go along.
Sand play in preschools in Singapore
As you can see, sand play is not just fun – it is also useful for a preschooler’s development, and the best playgroups in Singapore understand this. This is why we have made sand play a staple feature in all Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse centres. It is a firm favourite with our children! After all, play and exploration are both crucial parts of our curriculum.
Keen to find out more about how sand play and sensory learning can benefit your child’s early development? Book a tour to find out more about how we can support you and why our curriculum can bring out the best in your child.
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