A sandpit, according to thefreedicionary.com is a shallow pit or container. It’s purpose is to provide a play space for children. Because the sandpit provides a lot of fun for kids, it should not be overlooked as an educational device for creative teachers who think outside the proverbial box. It is an excellent space for teaching and learning.
First, remember that there are two kinds of sand-dry and wet. Some activities require dry sand; others will require you to add a little water to the sand. Both will be messy, but the mess is worth it when you see the learning that happens in the sandpit.
Children needs experiences that allow them to develop skills that they will need throughout life. Eye-hand coordination and small muscle control through the use of buckets and shovels makes learning fun. Provide different sizes of buckets, shovels and spoons to the children. Play games and build structures that require them to scoop up the sand and pour it into the containers. Funnels are another great way to encourage the development of both of these skills.
Creativity is often squashed in the classroom. Playing in the sandpit allows children to create anything they want to out of the sand. They can build castles, roads, towns, rivers, etc. Give the kids free time and let them create. Provide baking pans so the kids can create pies, muffins and more.
Archaeological digs are perfect for sandpit learning. Bury items that represent something from an ancient culture or from the time of dinosaurs. Teach students how such digs take place. Give them the tools they need, from spoons to brushes, to locate the materials you have hidden. Take pictures or draw drawings of their discoveries. This activity can lead to a writing assignment as they describe the materials found and why they are significant.
Science lessons can be carried into the sandpit. Let students build volcanoes out of the sand. Once they finished, put baking soda in each volcano. Give each child a small container of vinegar that has been died red with food coloring. Let each child pour their liquid into their own volcanoes and enjoy the massive class-wide eruption.
Use the sandpit to create a habitat for a desert animal. Use plastic cactus, plants and animals to show where a javelina or a coyote would live. You could also create habitats for mountains, coastal areas and more. Use your imagination and meet the need of your curriculum. Provide sticks, stones and other appropriate items for the students to use as they create the habitat.
Sandpits offer an opportunity for kids to learn social skills. They communicate as they play side-by-side. Some of the communication leads to conflict resolution.
Inside the classroom, a modified sandpit can be used to set up dioramas, such as a Native American village or a castle setting. The teacher or the students can create the visual lessons.
The sandpit will also provide a setting for sensory activities. Children can allow the sand to run through their fingers. Great fun is had when children are given a paper with pictures of hidden objects on it. They run their hands through the sand looking for the items on the paper. Designs can be drawn on the sand with fingers.
Sandpit lessons may be messy, but they are worth it. It is learning that makes a difference.