The Emotional Benefits of Sand Play

By Miami U. Libraries - Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sand has a long history as a natural therapeutic agent. Many ancient civilizations used sand in their healing ceremonies; among these: Tibetan monks, native Americans, and Australian aborigines. Even today sand art continues to be a very big part of Native American tradition. However,  it wasn’t until psychologist Dora Kalff developed sand play as an official form of therapy, that sand play became popular amongst child therapists.

And it is no wonder, sand play is one of the best natural games for children, made available by Mother Nature herself. Nature offers tremendous benefits over its artificial counterparts. In this article I am going to tell you about the many emotional benefits preschool children  can gain by indulging themselves in the thrill of sand play.

Emotional benefit #1:  Children learn plenty about themselves and their surroundings in a direct way: As you probably know, kids have to use their hands quite a lot for the purpose of touching, molding, and constructing those pretty sandboxes. A lot of therapists and other experts believe that the more kids use their limbs, the more they get to know about themselves and the surroundings they live in. Gradually, this enables them to explore the world in a much more fulfilling and satisfying way! If your children are at all kinesthetic (learn through touch and feeling), sand play will offer much in the way of learning about their world.

Emotional benefit #2: The depth of imagination is enhanced manifold: If you have played with sand as a kid and constructed those sandboxes you would agree with me that your imagination soared. In fact, you must have felt so self-absorbed that you probably forgot about the surrounding world (including your other playmates) at least for the moment. Well, sand play has the same emotional effect on most kids: it enhances their imagination and makes their imaginary worlds appear much more vivid, and thus fuels their creativity. For children that love to draw and paint, sand play can be a source of artistic muse.

Emotional benefit #3: Improves coordination between all the fingers of the hand: Despite being just a game, sand play requires quite a lot of effort, most of which comes from the fingers of our hands. As you probably know already, one of the best ways to improve your handwriting is to maximize the coordination between all the fingers of your hand; the more you do it, the better your handwriting will be. So in a way, sand play definitely improves the handwriting skills of kids. Going forward, they can become extremely self-sufficient and simple tasks such as tying their shoelaces or buttoning their clothes would come easy to them!

Emotional benefit #4: Enhances the tactile sense of kids: Sand play is one game which is different from the rest, in that it touches on and enhances the tactile skills of a kid. When you play a sand game, you have to feel every single thing that comes with the sand’s texture: you would feel its roughness, smoothness, muddiness, dryness, etc. As you can understand, sand play can greatly boost a kid’s sense of touch.

Emotional benefit #5: Makes your kid an extrovert: In a way, if you want your introvert kid to become an extrovert who is fully efficient in social skills, then don’t forget to indulge him in sand play. Indeed, sand play is one game which teaches a kid to collaborate with their other playmates, share spaces with them, learn to take care of their own little spaces while also being mindful of others’ spaces, etc. Very often sand play becomes a group activity due to the amount of thinking, compromise and cooperation involved in this game!

For more on the benefits of sand play you can purchase my book Making Sense of Children’s Senses at Barnes & Nobles or Amazon.

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