Indoors, the younger children have a mini-beach-like experience where they can sit in sand, wallow and feel, using all five senses. This is mirrored in the outdoor experience of sand where they can do deep digging; the sand is coarser to the touch and can be made into castles, or shapes.
Sand trays are resourced with natural materials for imaginative play, as well as buckets and spades for digging and building. Often being in the sand prompts children to develop small world and imaginative play, and will involve making structures and using the sand to pretend with.
The older children can transport the sand, add water to it, mix it to use it for their imaginative play, cook with it, make a hole to go to another place etc. In the sand, footprints and shoe prints can be carefully examined and various mark-making materials such as combs and sticks can be used to experiment and make patterns.
Water is another natural material that is enjoyable to experience and supports well-being. Children use all their five senses to explore it. Suitable clothing is provided so that the children can experience the rain, splashing in puddles, both on bikes and on foot. They can feel the rain running over the exposed parts of their bodies.
Taps/hose and drainpipes help children to experiment with the sensations of running water, to observe levels changing and how water can cascade downwards, and experience how much energy is needed to move water. Water also adds to the children’s play scenarios and is experienced, like the sand, both indoors and out.
…Mathematics and Science
Both sand and water promote mathematical thinking (exploring quantities as you transfer the material from one size of container to another) and scientific thinking (experiencing the force of “uplift” which makes things float, knowing that plants and animals need water to survive and finding out about how materials are washed with water, for example).
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