There’s a lot more to the humble sand pit or beachfront than meets the eye — who would have thought all that mudpie-making, sandcastle-shaping and digging for treasure could have so many developmental benefits?
When many of us cast our minds back to childhood, we can remember those golden days messing about in sand (Elf Carly can remember frequently burying her brother to his head on beach trips… if only he’d stayed there!). Although we loved this fascinating substance that we could shape and mould with the simple addition of water, little did we know the vast benefits we were getting in terms of hand-eye coordination, motor skills, creativity/imagination, social interaction, muscle strengthening, and appreciation of the natural world.
German brand HABA has a fantastic range of sand and water play toys that are perfectly suited to the Australian environment. Australian supplier Michele Blanshard says sand play toys appeal to a broad age group and have an extremely high play value.
“At the beach, in the sand pit, by the creek on a camping holiday, or even at the pool; sand and water play items provide endless hours of imaginative and creative play time,” Michele says.
“The HABA sand play offering is very different to the traditional bucket and spade type product. For example, HABA’s new Sun Bistro range is perfect for the little chef: mud and sand pies are transformed into detailed baked goods with the inclusion of moulds, stamps and kitchen-style utensils.”
HABA’s general sand play products are also hugely popular, with the number one seller — the Spilling Funnel — expected to double in sales this year.
“Sand play products are really the perfect summer gift,” Michele says.
Here are some ideas of how you and your little one can have a ball in the sand (these are from the Government of South Australia’s Sand Play Factsheet):
• Lift up buckets and containers full of sand and tip them out
• Slowly tip water onto the sand – what happens to the texture and does this make it easier to build with?
• Fill a funnel or sieve and watch the sand flow out of the holes
• Make designs and pictures in the sand using tools, or natural items like twigs, shells and rocks
• Make small sandcastles with cups or containers, or big ones with buckets and digging tools for deep moats
• Bury a toy under the sand and go treasure hunting to find it
• Make roads in the sand for trucks and cars
• ‘Cook’ with sand for tea parties
• Make farms or zoos and transport animals from one site to another
Here are some great sand and water play toys from Entropy:
For more information about the great benefits of sand play, read this fantastic article called The Pedagogy of Sand Play.