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Water and sand play
in the early years

The attraction of playing with sand and water is almost universal in young children. They can spend hours splashing, pouring, creating shapes, and making sandcastles. Water and sand play provides valuable childhood experiences, and these experiences can enhance their creativity, imagination and promote good health and well-being.

Water and sand play can be a completely immersive experience, where children become totally engaged and can lose themselves in the activity for long periods of time. This type of experience helps to develop their attention span and ability to concentrate.

Top 5 child development benefits from water and sand play

Develops motor skills – It’s important for young children to develop and exercise their fine motor skills. Learning how to hold and manipulate objects in their hands is an essential part of improving their manual dexterity. Sand and water play provides several different ways for children to practice this, from gripping play tools to squashing wet sand between their fingers.

Language and speech – Practice makes perfect when it comes to learning language and speech. When children play together using sand and water, barriers are broken down quickly, and conversation flows smoothly, from asking each other questions about the activity, to sharing ideas and creating role play games.

Social and emotional awareness – The early years environment is one of the best places a child can develop their social and emotional awareness. Mastering this ability can help children regulate their behaviour and can teach them valuable life skills, like cooperation, listening, and sharing with others. Children with a higher level of social and emotional awareness tend to have a better understanding of empathy towards others. Sand and water play encourages children to play together and allows them to practice these life skills.

Creativity – When children play with sand and water it is easy to see how quickly their imagination is engaged. When they are inventing games, making things, or drawing pictures, they are developing their creative thinking skills. Creative minds embrace flexibility, which can be an important tool for problem-solving. Mental flexibility also supports a child’s ability to retain new information.

Maths and science – Sand and water are excellent sensory activities for children to help them understand basic concepts in maths and science. Children can learn about measurements by filling and emptying containers of different sizes, or they can learn about weight by seeing how much sand or water it takes to sink a floating object.

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