Literacy Spot #35: Sand Tray Activities

Most young children love sand play so incorporating sand into your literacy play can be a fun way of engaging preschoolers and early primary aged children with letters – be they the letters of their name or the letters of words associated with their learning at school. I would suggest choosing a previously unused cat litter tray or other similar shallow tray to contain the sand.

3 Sand Tray Letter Fun Activities

1. Try hiding the letters of your child’s name, a sight word or spelling word in the sand tray for a letter fun treasure hunt. Magnetic letters or the letters borrowed from an alphabet puzzle would work equally as well for this activity.

sand tray activities

2. Use your finger or a popstick to form letter shapes (or sight words or spelling words) in slightly damp sand. Drawing pictures in the sand is another fun way of developing fine motor skills as well.

sand tray activities

3. This activity was completely of Immy’s creation. Use coloured matchsticks to create letter shapes on the damp sand. I am not sure if it is the contrast on materials but she was playing with the matchsticks and sand tray for ages. It is also a fun way to play with pattern making and shapes.

Tip: If you would like to encourage your child to be responsible for any unintentional sand spills, place a dustpan and hand broom  alongside the sand tray for a quick tidy up once they are done.

What is Childhood 101′s Literacy Spot? It is a weekly reminder of the importance of young children learning playfully as each week I share one idea for playing around with literacy, taken from my many years working as an early childhood teacher. Visit the previous Literacy Spot posts for more fun ideas for playing with literacy.

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  1. Christie, That’s a fun little idea. I was changing readers for grade 1 this morning and knew mr5 (kindy age) was sitting in with the class whist I was doing it. I found him happily tracing letters with the grade 1’s on a laminated mat.. 🙂 ready for school?

  2. This sand play is something to consider for outdoor sand box play as well. You’re right, children DO love playing in sand!

  3. I love the matchstick idea.My daughter would LOVE this,excellent!

  4. This would be fabulous for my almost five-year-old daughter who will be at school next year and is interested in the alphabet. My two-year-old would love the tactile sand play as well! Thanks for the idea!

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