Does the thought of your kids playing in the sand make you cringe? For most parents, it’s an overwhelming “YES”! I, too, used to be guilty of denying my kids some good old-fashioned sand playtime. But the truth is that sand sensory activities for kids are an amazing hands-on way of learning and developing independent play skills. It is the summer activity list for kids that will take you right to the beach. (okay, maybe that last part was a bit of a stretch)
I won’t deny that the dreaded mess associated with sand sensory play is real. But messy play for kids is essential for building confidence and developing natural curiosities. And there’s no better time to get in on the sand play than during those hot summer months. So in an effort to appease my kid’s craving for summertime play in the sand, I’ve figured out how to make this ultimate childhood sensory must-have fun, easy, and manageable for everyone (even us parents)!
These 9 sand play and sensory activities for kids are simple to set up and are guaranteed to keep your kids busy all summer long!
RELATED: Keep your kids out of the boredom zone this summer with our ultimate list of summer activities for kids!
What will your kids DO this summer?
Take the guesswork out of your days with the Summertime Bundle.
- Startup Guide creates your summer routine.
- Activity cards have easy activities.
- The PDF calendar puts your plan in place.
Sand is the ultimate summertime sensory play!
Sand is just one of those childhood sensory play experiences that can’t be denied. Whether your kids want to build, play or roll around in the sand, keeping kids out of it is hard. But playing with the sand does not have to mean a full day at the beach or a trip to the neighborhood park’s giant sandbox. Bring the sand to you!
Aside from building immunity (wink wink), sand play and sensory activities offer many wonderful benefits for play at home.
- Develops fine motor skills
- Hands-on learning
- Improves social engagement
- Introduces sensory awareness
- Nurtures creativity and imagination
- Open-ended play
- Promotes independent play
RELATED: Overwhelmed by the idea of sensory play? Follow our simple introduction to sensory play to get started!
Why is sensory play important?
Sensory play is important in so many ways for toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids too. Introducing children to new experiences will not only widen their scope of learning but nurtures their natural curiosities of exploration and imagination. What more could we want to foster for our children?
RELATED: Want more sensory bin ideas? Check out our 40+ favorite sensory activities for kids!
Use a sensory bin to contain all that sandy fun! Here’s how:
Sand should always be contained. I know you agree. The best way to keep sand contained is by simply using a sensory bin. If you’re new to sensory bins, they are essentially a space you create that is designed for sensory play. Setting your child up for success with a space designated for sensory activities will offer your child the ability to explore and play independently.
If your child is new to sensory play, remind them to always keep the sensory items inside the bin. This takes practice and reminding. Remember, as with all new things for toddlers, there is a learning curve. Be patient; before you know it, your child will be learning, exploring, and staying busy on their own so you can sip your mid-day coffee.
RELATED: Preschool activities are my jam. I love to keep them simple to set up and fun for kids.
9 sand play and sensory activities for kids
Summertime fun is not complete without some playtime in the sand. No need to take a trip to the beach when you can bring the sand to your backyard (in a sensory bin, of course!) with these fun sand play and sensory activities for kids. And when the real deal sand is unavailable, kinetic sand is an excellent alternative!
Note: Before your toddler gets too excited, set them up for success with these outdoor sensory play supplies!
Edible Sand Sensory Activities for Babies (Happily Ever Mom)
Looking to introduce some sand sensory play to your teething toddlers but worried about them shoving actual sand into their mouths? Crackers make the yummiest alternative. This simple one-ingredient sand alternative is a great way to introduce sand sensory play to your littles.
Strengthen fine motor skills with this kinetic sand sensory bin activity that involves grabbing and sorting counting bears as they develop independent play.
Dump some kinetic sand and some Mighty Pups into a sensory bin for the simplest sensory play activity that will get your preschooler playing with their pups in a whole new way.
Painting with Sand (Messy Motherhood)
Who knew you could create one-of-a-kind art with sand? This simple and colorful arts and crafts combines sensory play, coloring mixing, fine motor skills, and creativity all in one!
Sand and Water Ocean Sensory Bin (Fun Learning for Kids)
When you can’t get to the beach, bring the beach to you! Create an easy and fun beach scene in a sensory bin and invite your child for hours of sensory sand play.
Sand Foam Sensory Play (Little Bins Little Hands)
Sand foam is another fun way to use sand to create a whole new sensory play material! Follow this simple 2-ingredient sand foam recipe using sand and shaving cream for a whole new way of playing.
Pour some sand into a sensory bin and grab a few simple sensory tools (measuring cups, spoons, muffin tin), and invite your toddler to pour, scoop, dump, and measure!
Sand Slime (Growing a Jeweled Rose)
What could be more fun than creating sand slime to stretch, pull and play with? Use this easy recipe to create a new sand sensory experience with your toddler or preschooler.
Don’t skip the sand sensory play!
Sand sensory play may sound like a nightmare to some parents, mostly because of the dreaded mess that usually comes along with it. But just because your child wants to explore sand does not mean you need to find particles of sand in between your couch cushions and under the rug.
So if you’re holding your child back from playing in the sand, never fear. AFTER ALL, there IS a way to play and explore in this messy but fun sensory activity. With so many creative ways to play with sand, you can encourage your toddler or preschooler to learn, grow, explore, and play independently!
Spend time this summer with your kids relaxing and playing. Keep your toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids busy with outdoor activities, indoor games, art projects, sensory play, and good old-fashioned water play! The Summertime Bundle has a schedule, activities, and easy tips to hand with kids this summer.
Messy play is essentially a form of sensory play. Sensory play has been a proven form of hands-on learning that helps young children explore their curiosities and develop independence.
Messy sensory play is not for everyone; if you don’t enjoy it, don’t. Here is a list of ideas for kids that share low-key sensory play alternatives.