Sand and water play tables are commonly found in preschools because they are so beneficial for children learning to explore, problem-solve and use their imaginations. Whether you have a sand and water table at home for your child, you can engage you child in a variety of activities involving sand and water, which will help foster exploration and learning.
Open Sand and Water Play
Give your child a bunch of tools and toys that will let him lift, dig, pour and explore with sand and water. If you do not have a water and play activity table, you can put water and sand in giant tubs outside for your child to play with. Show her how to use dump trucks in the dry sand. Give her cookie cutters to cut out shapes from the damp sand. Encourage your child to use her imagination to get as creative as possible when playing with the sand and water. Don't worry about her making a mess or mixing the sand with the water -- it is all a learning process for your child.
Dry and Wet Sand Exploration
Give your child a small container of dry sand, one with wet sand and another with damp sand. Let her touch and play with the sand and ask her what she notices about the wet, dry and damp sand. Have her try to create something out of the dry sand, then have her try it with the wet sand, and finally the damp sand. Ask her which one works the best, and talk to her about why the damp sand is just right for building.
Pour dry sand out onto a large, wide container with edges, such as baking sheet. Next, fill several clear squeeze containers and spray bottles with water dyed a certain color using food coloring. Let your child use the squeeze containers to decorate the sand with water. Encourage your child to get as creative as possible using all the colored water bottles. For an older school child, challenge her to write her name in the sand using the colored water. You will need to have plenty of dry sand on hand so your child can start over with clean sand a few times.
Sand Castles at the Beach
If you live near a beach, take your child for a day of fun in the sand and water. Show her how much bigger the beach is compared to her sandbox at home. Bring a few small toys such as buckets and shovels for her to make sand castles. Ask her whether she notices any difference from the sand at the beach you are at compared to the sand she plays with at home. For example, perhaps you are on a white sand beach, with sand that has a powdery texture. Walk her to the water's edge to see the waves coming up on onto the sand. Let her make foot prints and hand prints in the damp sand.