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Sensory Benefits of Sand Play

2014-05-28 by Dayna Abraham

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It’s that time of year again. The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising and the kids are starting to stir. What could be a better summer activity than Sand Play? We all know how fun sand play can be, but did you know the sensory benefits that can be found from a day at the sand lot with your favorite sand toys?

I am over at Lemon Lime Adventures today, sharing…

10 Sensational Sand Play Ideas. Click here to read the full posts.



Sand Play lends itself to a multitude of sensory activities and benefits. Most of us think of sand play as a very tactile (touchy/feely) activity and don’t realize how much more sand play is actually benefiting our children’s sensory systems.
A child receives and interprets information through their 7 senses, allowing them to make meaning and organize their world. Without proper sensory integration, children are unable to self regulate, attend to activities, or function like their peers in social situations. That is why, today, I am going to share just a few of sensory benefits of sand play.


The tactile sense detects light touch, deep pressure, texture, temperature, vibration, and pain.
In order to master fine motor skills and the ability to discriminate between different textures, a child must first learn to develop of tolerance for touch. Sand provides an excellent opportunity for this as children bury themselves, squeeze the sand into balls, let the sand run through their fingers from the buckets and build sand castles.
Sand allows children to explore various textures and temperatures, from the dry hot sand on the surface to the cool moist sand as they dig deeper.
This simple play is a stepping stone for later skills such as identifying objects by touch alone, discriminating various textures, playing instruments, and even writing/typing without looking down.

Movement {Vestibular}

The vestibular senseallows a child to move through space and know where they are in that space.
In order for a child to feel safe in their environment, be attentive and alert, the vestibular system must first be regulated. This can be done through various movement activities. Sand play provides a wonderful venue for vestibular input as children run through the sand, bend upside down to dig a mote with their favorite shovel, spin their feet and hands through the sand, or fill and shake an exciting sifter and funnel.
This simple play is a stepping stone for later skills such as skiing, bike riding, and staying alert in a classroom.

Body Awareness {Proprioceptive}

Proprioception refers to a child’s ability to sense their body’s position and be aware of their surroundings. In essence, it is in charge of combining and interpreting the tactile and vestibular input.
In order for a child to accurately gauge their movements, attend to a conversation, and move through a crowded space, a child must first receive proper proprioceptive input. Sand play provides appropriate “heavy work” through pushing, pulling, shoveling, scooping and pouring. You might even see a child lie down in the sand, push a bulldozer against the sand, or carry buckets of sand… all of which are providing that child with amazing sensory input.
This simple play is a stepping stone for later skills such as proper posture, attentiveness, reading, and proper pencil grasp.
These are just a few of the many benefits of sand play. Along with tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive sensory benefits, sand play provides opportunities for language development, fine motor development, and creative dramatic play. Not to mention the hours of fun!
For more sand play ideas, don’t forget to hop over to read 10 Sensational Sand Play Ideas on Lemon Lime Adventures.

Related Sensory Resources:

What is Sensory Processing | Lemon Lime Adventures
What Does Sensory Mean? | The Inspired Treehouse
Is it Sensory or Is it Behavior? | Golden Reflections Blog
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Dayna Abraham

Dayna is a National Board Certified teacher, with over 12 years of experience in early childhood education, who now homeschools her 3 children, one of which struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder. She is the author at Lemon Lime Adventures and owner of Project Sensory, where she is dedicated to sharing real life stories with parents and educators about the pretty and the not so pretty days involved in raising children. You can connect with Dayna over on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and G+!

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