There are many different types of play that can be used to encourage a child’s development, and while some are more beneficial than others, there is no doubting the effectiveness of sand and water sensory play.
Sensory play involves play that utilizes a child’s senses: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste.
While all types of play require the use of different senses, sensory play is intended to use specific senses in order to encourage development.
Two popular types of sensory play involve sand play and water play.
Want more sensory ideas? Be sure to check out our other fun sensory activities for kids!
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Benefits of Sand and Water Play for Child Development
Playing with sand and water is of huge benefit to children.
Not only does it encourage their sensory development, it is also remarkably therapeutic.
Therapeutic Sensory Play
Studies have shown that sand and water sensory play is incredibly effective for dealing with children with anxiety disorders.
The smooth feeling of simply letting sand or water flow through their hand can be particularly soothing for anxious children.
When my sons were toddlers, I would use plastic bathtub toys with holes in them and let the streams of water fall onto their hands.
It was an amazingly soothing activity that just mesmerized them.
In this way, sand and water sensory play is a fantastic way of encouraging children to relax.
By teaching them of mindfulness, children can learn to calm themselves and achieve a state of peacefulness. This is a vital skill for young children to learn.
For children with emotional or behavioral issues, sand and water play can assist them to self-regulate their emotions and actions.
As children get older, the ability to regulate their own emotions becomes increasingly important, and learning it from a young age will help their social development immensely.
Investigative Sand and Water Sensory Play
However, sand play and water sensory play is not all about emotional development and control.
It can also involve more investigative and hands on play.
Simple games like hiding an object in the sand or under the water and asking the child to guess what the object is by feel alone are excellent sensory learning tools.
Encouraging children to identify objects by touch is great for learning about shapes and textures, while simple games like filling a glass or bucket teaches basic mathematical concepts.
Sand play and water play is also a great way to introduce group play to children.
By its very nature, sand and water play is relaxing, and children can learn to play in close proximity to each other.
The sand box or water pool should be fixed in position so children must stay together if they wish to play.
Similarly, this fixed location allows you to introduce a play area outside of which sand or water cannot leave.
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In this way, children learn about sweeping up escaped sand or drying wet floors from drips. In this way, sand and water play activities help to teach children about responsibility and the consequences of their actions.
This post is part of a playful series hosted by Encourage Play that’s all about play! Learn more about why play matters so much!