Monday, June 6, 2011

what children learn in the sandpit

 "What happens if they just play in the sandpit all day?" - A question you might be familiar with if you offer a program where outdoor play is available to the children all day long.

Last Friday we had a group of children who did just that.  And this is what happened:


  • They had the time to really sink their teeth into a project.  
  • They used their large and small muscles as they moved their bodies in different ways.
  • They co-operated and communicated with their friends - forming and sharing plans and ideas and  working together to carry them out. 
  • They explored concepts such as cause and effect; volume, measurement, depth, weight, absorption and balance.
  • They built their own levers.
  • They faced obstacles and challenges and overcame them - or not - maybe next time.
  • They asked questions.
  • They made predictions, observations, estimations,comparisons and experiment.
  • They thought of other resources to help carry out their plans.
  • They used different tools.
  • They tried on different roles - builder, plumber, creator of the universe.
  • They had the opportunity to feel powerful and in control of their own world.

  • They had conversations.  
  • They made connections.  
  • They watched and learnt from their friends.
  • They drew plans and maps.
  • We talked about topics as diverse as water level and how workers in ancient Egypt moved large rocks.
  • They learnt that even builders need to break for lunch.
  • They had fun.
Perhaps the question should be "What won't children learn if they play in the sandpit all day?"

12 comments:

  1. Everything you write is so inspiring. Today is no different. I, too, am seeing the benefits of playing in the sand. I actually just linked up a post to thos weeks It's Playtime about our sand mountain. Please don't ever stop sharing your insights into play based curriculum!

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  2. Love this article Jenny :) So so true!

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  3. Brilliant Jenny! Well done! Have you displayed this somewhere prominant for your parents to read?

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  4. Thanks for the comments everyone - and no Karen I haven't but that is a great idea.

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  5. Looks like fun! I remember as a child playing in a huge hole in our front yard that was there because a pipe was being fixed. I remember having hours of fun....it inspired lots of imaginative play!

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  6. Wait for this - one school I've been working in has just created a massive sandpit with 70 tonnes of sand being put in this week. Then there's going to be a celebratory sandpit party. How exciting is this - for 3-12yr olds.

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  7. I am linking up to your post- our sand is beach sand- but fun and educational too!

    http://www.adventurezinchildrearing.com/2011/06/beach-daze-our-week-in-great-outdoors.html

    that is the post link- if it doesn't work right- you can find it at www.adventurezinchildrearing.com


    the original post was created for Outdoor Play link up - but they work so well together! glad i found you - new follower & fan!

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  8. I wish I was in that sand pit right now!
    Because I am in an urban school, I made one of the sensory tables a sand pit, with water, rocks, sand, sticks etc..
    Only problem is that it starts smelling. Sometimes I throw a little dish soap in there to hide the smell (I'm not sure if it is eliminating it.) Any suggestions?

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  9. YEA! This is great! I'm going to share this post with some fellow teachers!

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  10. You've made such great observations about the children's learning and I think this is a great testament to the importance of lengthy periods of free play for young children.
    Also, you've made me want to get out there and play in the sandbox. :)

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  11. Wow that is the neatest thing, my kids would be in hog heaven! They play for hours in the sand turtle we bought them.

    Thank you for sharing these pics.

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