• Children of all ages love to play with sand and water. The sensory experience combined with the opportunity for creativity and dramatic play make it one of the most popular play choices at an early learning centre.
Sand and water play provides countless benefits, including:
Sand and water are especially suited to dramatic play. When you add accessories, such as diggers, toy animals, planks of wood (for making bridges), dolls and plastic fish, children make worlds come alive.
Dramatic play is important because it helps develop social and language skills; allows the expression of positive and negative feelings; teaches children to negotiate, take turns and resolve conflict; and helps children make sense of the world.
Adding glitter, dye or Lux (soap) flakes to the water
Making volcanoes, islands, rivers and lakes
Using the opportunity to talk about the environment
Adding natural objects, such as rocks, sticks, shells and seaweed
Drawing sand pictures
Adding downpipes and guttering for pouring water through
Taking dolls swimming
Turning on a sprinkler in summer
Creating a mini Jurassic Park (with dinosaurs and fences)!
Playcentre recommends the following as a minimum for early learning centres:
For sand play
Sand play area (ideally two, one for wet and one for dry)
Storage (for buckets, spades and accessories)
Tools (spades and rakes)
Containers (buckets and measuring)
Vehicles (trucks, diggers & cars)
Rake and spade (adult sized)
For water play
Fibreglass trough on a stand
Storage (for water-play toys/accessories)
Nearby water source
Containers and accessories (for pouring, filling, measuring and siphoning)
Water pump – hand powered
Items for floating and sinking
See the Playcentre basic equipment list
A good selection of accessories maximises the benefits of sand and water play, in particular stimulating dramatic play.
Plastic sea animals
Sand and water play relates particularly to Strand 5 of Te Whāriki, which is Exploration/Mana Aotūroa.
To learn more about Te Whāriki, visit the website.
Our thanks to the Auckland Playcentre Shop for permission to use this article. Great play starts here.