Holistic benefits of sandpit playgrounds

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Kids who love to run and play, especially enjoy playing in the sand. Whether it's digging their toes into the soft grains or building a castle, while therapeutic, the process holds holistic value for young children.

Over the years, sandpit playgrounds have been quick to phase out, to make way for modern ones made of metal and plastic. Gone are the days where playgrounds had more textures like sand and rubber. Sandpit playgrounds have so much to offer, especially in terms of holistic benefits for young children.

‘Holistic’ encompasses all areas of child development - physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

Sandpit playground: A healthy and active child!

When we think of sand play, sand play equipment like spades, shovels and pails come to mind. The act of young children scooping sand into pails or different sandcastle moulds involves the utilisation of their hands and fingers, which in turn helps develop or enhance their fine motor skills.

Sand provides children with a very tactile experience--the texture of sand and how the consistency of sand changes when water is added.

Likewise, children practice, develop and refine their fine and gross motor skills (small and large muscles) through digging, scooping and writing in the sand. Nothing is more therapeutic than grabbing a handful of sand and letting it slip through your fingers!

A child eager to learn!

Cognition includes language, mathematical skills, science concepts and environmental awareness. The learning of language can be made more fun and interesting with a trip to sandpit playgrounds.

Activities like writing in the sand, creating a ‘sand story’ or even just describing how sand feels are innovative ways to help children practice their language skills.

Mathematical skills like estimation, counting, shapes, and sorting can easily be practiced at sandpit playgrounds. Some questions to stimulate a child’s thinking include: (a) how many scoops of sand are needed to fill this pail? or (b) which pail is heavier?

In addition to language and math, science concepts which can be introduced with sand include observing, experimenting and predicting.  Some questions which can spark a child’s learning include: (a) what do you think will happen when water is added to sand? or (b) how do you think we can dry wet sand?

For a broader view into the holistic benefits of sandpit playground for kids, click here for Part II: Sandpit playgrounds - Social and emotional value.

This research piece was put together by Chan Cruz Ai Shan, Jamie Quek & Phanida Suwanarat of Wheelock College Undergraduate under the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Educational Studies and Leadership programme.