10 Ways to Play with Sand {Sensory Summer}

Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
What kid doesn't LOVE playing in the sand. Well I have a confession...I kind of hate sandboxes. And yes we have one in our backyard, but I'm a bit OCD and there's something about sand that drives me insane. I mean it gets eve-ry-where! My littlest is at the prime sand eating and throwing age so any time spent in the sandbox = sand in mouths, hair, diapers, shoes and my entire kitchen floor. 

But sometimes I have to suck it up and take one for the team, because they are only little once and boy do they love playing in the sand. So I scooped a good chunk of sand out of our sandbox and filled our bin for some Sensory Summer fun! Here are 10 fun ideas to try to keep them so busy they'll forget to throw sand ;)

If you want to gather all of your materials before you start, we found almost everything we needed at Target, The Dollar Tree or on Amazon. Here are all the materials we used:

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Empty Water Bottles
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand Pies:
We started out the week by filling our Under Bed Clear Storage Bin with sand. (I could have just let them play in our sandbox each day, but I knew our last activity was going to be adding water and I didn't want to deal with a muddy sandbox for weeks.) We just watched a Daniel Tiger episode where they made "sand pies," so we made a little bakery with wooden spoons, mini baking panswhisksspoons, and cups. The girls had lots of fun baking and pretending just like their buddy Daniel Tiger!
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Build and Smash:
While Madelynn loves building, Aubrey loves smashing, so to encourage them to play together I pulled out our sand castle molds and sand shovels and rakes. Madelynn built elaborate castles, and then I had them hop in the bin to stomp and smash each one.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand Measuring and Mixing:
My girls love to pretend to make all kinds of concoctions so I threw our whisksmeasuring spoonsmeasuring cupswooden spoons, and bowls into the bin with the sand. The girls loved measuring, mixing, dumping, and scooping, all morning long!
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand Filling:
Next, I added in some empty bottles, funnels, and scoopsMadelynn used the funnels to fill the bottles, while Aubrey tried to shake all of the sand back out.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
 Sand Construction Zone:
For our next activity, we used our construction vehicles to scoop, dump, and make tracks in the sand.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand I-Spy:
Next, I dumped a bunch of small plastic Toob toys (dinosaurs, insects, and planes) inside. I gave Madelynn clues and she had to find the item I was describing. For example: "I spy something green with 6 legs and antennae." or "I spy something white that flies in the air." Adding the magnifying glass made it even more exciting.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand Writing:
We did a little easy peasy writing with sticks in the sand. I modeled and Madelynn attempted to copy. We practiced all different types of lines to perfect our prewriting skills as we get ready to start preschool next month.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Build a Sand Forest:
This activity wasn't an original part of my plans but Madelynn came up with it all by herself, and Aubrey was all kind of excited to join in. We found leaves and sticks and tried to pack sand around them to make them stand up.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand Light Table:
For this activity we brought a bit of our sand indoors to play with on our favorite clear tray. Then I placed our light pad underneath the tray for an engaging way to practice some more prewriting skills. We tried using a paintbrush and our fingers.
Spice up your sand table or sand filled sensory bin with these 10 play ideas. Perfect activities for summer tot school, preschool, or kindergarten!
Sand & Water:
Okay OCD mamas, try not to freak out for this one. Both the girls and our bin were a muddy hot mess when we finished with this activity, but it was our last activity for the week so I just hosed everything (kids, toys, patio, etc.) down afterwards and I survived ;) They LOVED getting messy and muddy so it was all worth it for some quality play time.

Do you have a sandbox in your backyard? What are your favorite ways to encourage sand play?

If you missed our  previous themes, you can catch up here:

This summer we are spending a whole week at a time using the same sensory bin full of materials and coming up with different ways to play every day. See you next week when we explore, play, and get learn with...water and ice!  Here are the themes and plans coming your way all summer long:

2 comments

  1. Any suggestions on how to get the kiddos to keep sand in the bins? I am struggling with this :( and as it gets colder and we bring the bins inside I need an easier clean up!

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    1. We definitely have the same problem! Other than lots of practice and reminders, sometimes I will lay down a big plastic tablecloth from the dollar store under the bin so that most of the mess can easily be wrapped up and poured back in the bin. And invest in a good hand vac, I use mine pretty much every day ;)

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