10 Sensational Sand Play Ideas

 This time of year is my favorite. The sun is shining, the temperatures are starting to rise and the parks start to call our name for some good old fashioned sand play! This year we packed up our new favorite sand toys from Melissa and Doug and headed to a hidden gem down the street. If you are a regular here, you know just how much we love Sensory Play, so it would come as no surprise to you that today we are sharing some of our favorite sand play ideas for sensory development.

Sensational Sand Play


Sand play is such a basic part of almost every kids’ childhood, that sometimes I feel like the simplicity overshadows the amazing developmental and sensory benefits. Today, I am over at Melissa and Doug explaining the sensory benefits of sand play.

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 We had so much fun at the park with our new toys that I just had to share. I’ve added in a few of our favorites that we just can’t wait to try out, as well. With each activity I have added the sensory system addressed.

If you would like to know more about typical and atypical development for any of those systems, just click on the title and you will be taken to one of the post in my series on Sensory Processing Disorder.


Sand “Writing” | Tactile

I love how any age child can benefit from sand play! Super B (1) is just learning to keep things out of her mouth, making the sand box that much more fun. For the first part of the time at the park, she sat on the outside of the sandbox and ran her fingers through the sand on the ledge. She made lines, squiggles and movements… all precursors to letter formation later on.

Fine Motor Development with Sand Play

Fine motor development and sand writing can be done with any age child. My older boys (6 and 8) love to do their word work in the sand and take their learning on the road.

Fine Motor Prewriting in Sand Play

Sand and Water Sensory Play | Tactile & Proprioception

I love this Sensory Sand Play  from Little Bins for Little Hands is a great example of how mixing water with your sand play can open a whole new world. I love how they make their own mud, create castles and so much more. I love watching the dumping and scooping, mixing and pouring.


Sandbox Science

There is so much learning and sensory development happening in this activity!


Slimy Sand | Tactile

Seriously! I am not sure if I want to call this cool! or gross! or Cool! Okay, this sand slime from Growing a Jeweled Rose is awesome! You will definitely want to check out what she did to make the sand so slimy and such an amazing sensory experience.

Sand Slime

This is absolutely going on our “Summer Bucket List!”


Sand Painting | Tactile & Visual

Sand play doesn’t always have to happen in the sandbox. I love how Amanda at Dirt and Boogers took the sand inside for art exploration with her little man. It always makes me smile to see art and sensory collide like they do in this simple sand painting activity.

Sand Play | Painting with Sand

This would be such a great way to get in sand play on those rainy days, or when the summer is over and temps are starting to drop again.

Shake and Spin | Vestibular

 You might have noticed that Legoman (8) isn’t in any of the pictures , yet. That is because he was working really hard digging his holes, building a castle and filling his mote. He was up to his waist in sand (from the head to his waist). Once he had gotten his tactile and proprioceptive input, he was ready for some more alerting games. Through therapy, he has learned that his body enjoys vestibular movement games such as spinning. Because of this need to move, Legoman was able to come up with a pretty cool sand play activity.

Shake and SpinThe idea of this game is simple. Fill a funnel (we love our Melissa and Doug hourglass funnel) with sand and then turn it over. As the sand pours out, spin in circles like a sprinkler system. {Note: Make sure no other children are near, as sand could get in their eyes}.

Stomp and Smash | Vestibular & Proprioception

To get some good proprioceptive input, we created a game full of stomping, smashing, carrying and building. The game was simple. Bones (6) made 4 mounds using his sand pails and lined them up in a line. On the count of three he went through the line, smashing and stomping his mounds.

Stomp and Smash Sand Play IdeasHe loved this so much, that he built and smashed, smashed and built, over and over again.

Bury, Jump and Destroy | Proprioception

We’ve all done it, right? Buried ourselves or someone else in the sand? This simple sand play idea is full of sensory benefits and opportunity for language development. Bones couldn’t get enough of this game where he buried his feet in the sand and prepared himself for takeoff. He would count down, take a big squat, and then Jump UP with all his might!

Sand Play Bury and Jump Game

Ready… Set… JUMP!

Sand play Jump and Bury

So much fun and sensory play at the same time! Don’t you love knowing that sand play isn’t just nonsense? Did you know it could provide so much for your child’s sensory system, all while having a blast?

Drive and Dump | Proprioception

Whether its making tracks, pretending to run a construction site, or planning a castle; one thing my boys love to do in the sand is to push and dump. They love the feel of the wheels of their bulldozer wooshing through the sand, the way the scoop creates resistance, as they push it along and the satisfaction of filling up the buckets along the way.

Sand Play Ideas Push and Dump

I love to sit back and watch the play unfold as their creativity and imagination is sparked in a way that can only happen through sand play.


Writing with Sand on a Light Table | Tactile & Visual

Another great idea for bringing the sand in on those rainy and gloomy days, or any day that inside is just better, is to use play sand on a light table. Teach Preschool sets up a lovely sand play invitation on their light table and if you click through, you can read about even more every day light table fun.


I love how the sand is illuminated, and the lines and shapes made by the kids are highlighted as they run their fingers through the sand.

Dandelion Hide and Seek | Visual

As I mentioned before, sand play can be beneficial for any age. Super B had a blast playing “Dandelion Hide and Seek“. You could hide any small object, but she has been so fascinated with all the new plants (and weeds) that we thought it would be fun to use some dandelions to hide. The game was simple. After showing her the dandelion, I hid it under the sand mold. Look at the delight as she retrieved it from under the mold!

Sand Play with One Year OldsLooking for More Sensory or Sand Play Ideas?

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I hope you enjoyed our simple list of sand play ideas. Maybe you found something new or an old favorite! What ever the case is, I’d love to know about your favorite sand activity.

I would love to hear! Connect with me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestInstagram or subscribe by email. I can’t wait to hear your ideas.


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6 thoughts on “10 Sensational Sand Play Ideas”

  1. It’s amazing how many different things you can do with just sand isn’t it. My kids love digging to Australia and then sitting in the hole and then burying each other. Or making a boat. Or a castle with a moat. Ideas are endless. Great post, thanks for even more ideas!

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