• Playground Design and Build Specialists

24/01/20 Blog

10 Reasons for Early Years to Engage with Sand Play!

Sand Play for Early Years

Sandy hands are a sign your child has been learning! 

Many of us remember the best hours of our school day being in the sandpit. Newby Leisure recognises the importance of sand play when designing natural playgrounds and school playground equipment.

So how effective is sand play?

Here are 10 skills that early years develop during this fun activity:

1. Social Skills
Sandpits are the perfect place for socialisation, collaboration and discussion, especially during school. They begin to develop skills in negotiation as they share tools between them. Usually, there are many disagreements amongst them as they decide what to build and who is building what. Conflicts can arise and during sand play, children learn how to manage these conflicts as they discuss solutions. Many conversations take place in the sandpit, that can lead to long-lasting friendships.

2. Problem Solving
Early years children constantly face real-life problems during sand play. Problems such as how to take measurements and solve mathematical equations. As they grow they will face many problems in life. Sand play can help them build the resilience they need to face more complicated issues in the future. During this stage of their development, they don’t see problems the way adults do. They see challenges and do anything possible to remove them; without facing the situation directly. Sand play teaches them to gradually build the skills they need to solve challenges rather than avoiding them.

3. Fine Motor Development
Early years naturally build fine motor skills as they play with sand. This means they begin to develop small muscles, particularly in their fingers which help them to grip and control pens and pencils. This is important because they are well equipped to start writing when they start formal schooling. Sand is the perfect natural resource for developing fine motor skills - building strength and control. This is quickly achieved through digging, shaping and writing.

4. Gross Motor Development 

Sand play also promotes large muscle groups and physical development. Large movements such as digging, pouring, lifting and pushing help to strengthen their whole body. Through sand play, early years develop an awareness of their entire body and how they can successfully use it to accomplish difficult tasks.

Sand (1)

5. Logical Thinking
Children learn to analyse, compare and take basic measurements informally in the sandpit. They begin to learn numbers through making and calculating objects. Early years learn simple equations such as (2 objects + 2 objects = 4 objects). Through sand play, children are prepared to learn numbers formally. By this point, they hold an abstract idea of the value of numbers.

6. Learning Measurements
Both capacity and volume are learnt in the sandpit. The act of pouring and measuring sand into containers and buckets helps early years to establish a basic understanding of measuring. They learn this by comparing different sized containers, with the same level of sand, and how many spoons it takes to fill them. 

7. Scientific Discoveries
Sandpits provide early years with the basic knowledge of their environment and the properties of sand. As they dig they excavate things that have been buried before as well as discovering new layers of sand - just like the earth and its many layers. They discover that each layer has a different temperature and moisture level as they delve to the bottom. Newby Leisures Wooden Sandpit with PVC Cover, allows young children to experiment with both natural and man-made materials. It's the perfect platform for learning how things work and impact each other.

8. Eye-hand Coordination
Creating and building during sand play helps early years develop the skills they need for hand-eye coordination. These skills are very important as they grow and play new activities such as sports and drawing detailed pictures in their art lessons.

9. Vocabulary and Language Development
New vocabulary is established in the sandpit as children explore new objects, thoughts and feelings. This occurs when a child and teacher exchange what they’re doing. Thus, new vocabulary is established. During this educational activity, mathematical language is often verbalised as early years discuss what they’re doing - emptying, filling, scooping and pouring.


10. Confidently Creativity

Children are naturally creative creatures and the sandpit is their perfect canvas! Early years can draw, create, build and write in the sand. As they work independently they explore new ideas; letting their imaginations wander to new heights. After every creation a child will feel a sense of accomplishment, building confidence every time they play.

10 benefits of sand play

Did you know you can buy Playground Equipment for Schools on our Online Store?

Why not try our very own Newby Leisure designed and manufactured Sandpit.

Wooden Sandpit with PVC Cover

Wooden Sandpit


Newby Leisure’s Children's Wooden Sandpit with PVC Cover - a playtime essential.

This outdoor wooden sandpit is the great addition for any school playground, nursery or garden.

Children can dig, build and sieve the sand to learn values of textures and weights and measures. An age old resource, the sandpit is a great place for children to develop social skills and interaction too.

Next time your child comes home absolutely covered in sand. Breathe a sigh of relief! At least you’ll know that they’ve had fun whilst learning so many new skills.

Thanks for reading!


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