EYFS Sand Play Ideas and Activities

Arts & Crafts Activities

EYFS Sand Play Ideas and Activities

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EYFS Sand Play Ideas and Activities

  1. The Sand Basics
  2. Treasure Hunt
  3. Imaginative Play: Building Site
  4. Imaginative Play: Beach Scene
  5. Sand Art: Patterns
  6. Sand Art: Pictures
  7. Sand Art: Decorative Jars
  8. Writing In Sand
  9. Sand Shakers
  10. Sticky, Slimy and Modelling Play Sand

Play sand is a cheap and versatile resource that can be put to endless different uses in early years settings. A sand table (or sand pit) by itself will provide plenty of opportunity for open-ended play, but there are lots of other ways in which you can tap into the fact that children are naturally drawn to sand. In this article, we’ll explore some ideas for a whole range of play sand activities and games.

The Benefits of Sand Play

Children love playing with sand, and it’s easy to see why. You can do so many things with it – move it around, build with it, draw in it – and it’s also very soothing to the touch. There are several benefits to playing with sand:

  • It improves fine motor skills
  • It provides opportunities for exploration and experimentation
  • It’s a sensory, immersive, calming experience
  • It provides an outlet for creativity and imaginative play
  • It’s a good way of getting children to play outside

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EYFS Sand Play Ideas and Activities

  1. The Sand Basics

    A perennial favourite in early years settings, sand play tables (or sand pits) allow children to play with sand within a roughly contained space. You can buy them in different sizes, large or small, and use them both inside and outside. Stock up on some accessories such as buckets, scoops, rakes, sieves and moulds and let the children play freely. Provide water sprays so that they can make the sand wet for building with. Keep lids on when not in use, and sift/change the play sand regularly.

  2. Treasure Hunt

    This activity works well using a sand play table or sand pit, but a big box full of sand will do. Simply hide some toys in the sand and let the children have fun finding them, using their hands, scoops or spades. Try different themes for your treasure hunt; for example, bury shells and give the children buckets to put them in, or hide fish to be collected in nets, or have an egg hunt at Easter.

  3. Imaginative Play: Building Site

    In your sand play table/pit (or big box of sand), set up all the materials needed to create a building site, including toy diggers, dumper trucks, toy figures and building blocks. Use wet sand for scooping out roads and foundations, and leave plenty of dry sand for transporting around the site.

    sand box sand pit sand table play ideas activities

  4. Imaginative Play: Beach Scene

    For this activity, you could use a sand table/pit/box, or even just a deep tray with sand in. Provide a range of resources – for example; shells, small pebbles, larger stones, sticks, ‘seaweed’, toy figures and so on – and get the children to create a beach scene.

  5. Sand Art: Patterns

    There are lots of ways of making different patterns in the sand; here are a couple of ideas. One is sand combing, a very therapeutic activity that involves creating swirling patterns in the sand using a variety of rakes and combs (these could be homemade, using thick cardboard with notches cut out); another is making a mosaic pattern in the sand with shells or pebbles.

  6. Sand Art: Pictures

    Again there are plenty of ways of using sand to make pictures. One idea is to draw on the ground with sand dribbled from squeezy bottles (eg empty glue or paint bottles), perhaps filling in a chalk outline. Other ideas include using sand like glitter on top of glue – you can buy shakers filled with special craft sand in different colours or even adding normal sand to wet paint to create texture.

  7. Sand Art: Decorative Jars

    For this activity, you can either use bought craft sand or make your own coloured sand with dyes. Fill small jars or bottles with layers of different coloured sand, adding each layer carefully using a spoon and funnel; put lids on so that the children can take their colourful creations home with them.

  8. Writing In Sand

    Encourage children to practice letter formation in a fun way (while at the same time developing their fine motor skills) by writing their names, or just individual letters, in a shallow tray of sand. This activity is particularly effective if you can set it up on top of a lightbox or board, either straight on it or perhaps using a transparent tray.

    sand play sand box ideas activities

  9. Sand Shakers

    Collect some containers and partially fill them with sand to make shakers. Different containers will produce different sounds – try plastic eggs, glass jars, plastic bottles, small tins, sweet tubes and so on – so have fun testing and decorating a variety of shakers.

  10. Sticky, Slimy and Modelling Play Sand

    Experiment with adding other ingredients to sand, to change its texture and properties. For example, mixing sand and slime together will provide an unusual sensory experience, while mixing sand with playdough enables children to build sandcastles that won’t fall down. You can also buy special modelling sand in a variety of colours.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring some more ways to be creative and play with sand. If you’re looking for more activity ideas inside or out then why not try some of our other articles:

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