Right before Christmas I was asking the Mums and Dads what they were getting their kids for Christmas and one of the common answers was kinetic sand. I love this stuff- for the sensory benefits, the creative benefits, the play benefits, the calming benefits and the engagement benefits (and the quiet time benefits). You can build castles and other 3D shapes just like ordinary sand (but with very little mess and you can do it indoors). You can also do heaps of other cool things that will help your child’s development. Check out the following list to keep your little one busy……
- Make a mini treasure hunt by hiding all sorts of little objects in the sand- marbles, figurines, beads, sequins, feathers, “jewels”, plastic coins, nuts and bolts and screws, and see what they can find. If your child dislikes the feeling of the sand, encourage him to use tweezers or tongs to retrieve the items. This will allow your child to continue to explore and be exposed to the sand without having to touch it, and will continue to develop fine motor skills and pre-scissor skills.
- Build an indoor castle- decorate it with sticks and leaves and feathers and stones from around the yard or other crafty items that your child might like. This will encourage your child to explore a variety of textures.
- Hide little plastic letters of the alphabet in the sand. Start with the letters in your child’s name and encourage her to retrieve and arrange them. This one is great to help kids recognise their name and for individual letter recognition.
- Try squeezing the sand for “heavy work” for kids who are either over-stimulated or children that are hard to get going. Heavy work includes activities that provides sensory input to our joints and muscles through resistance or compression. Remember heavy work brings you down when you are up and up when you are down.
- Make mini pizzas out of the sand- “knead” and push the sand down to make a pizza base. Add the toppings (beads, match sticks, stones) and then sprinkle some cheese on top (extra sand). The kneading and pushing of the sand is a great way to get heavy work involved and the decorating is great for fine motor skills and ideation/planning.
- Get the cookie cutters and pretend to make cookies. This is another great little fine motor game but also offers the opportunity to engage in some pretend play.
- Make faces with different faces and emotions and discuss these with your child. This is a great one for our kids that have trouble understanding, and picking up on, different emotions, or for kids who have difficulty identifying and regulating their own emotions.
- Use rubber stamps to stamp patterns/letters/pictures into the sand
- Help children with letter/number formation by molding letters/numbers in the sand and then tracing over them with their fingers in the correct formation. For kids having difficulty picking up on letter formation visually, it is important to use other sensory channels such as the tactile (touch) system to help learn these skills.
- Make a construction site with mini trucks, diggers, rollers etc.
Following is a link to a tutorial on how to make your own kinetic sand. I haven’t made and yet but I plan to in the coming weeks- let me know if you do have a go at making it and how it turns out. Have fun!
The ideas presented on this blog are for informational purposes only and do not replace medical advice or an individualised treatment plan developed between therapist, caregiver, and child. If you are concerned about the development or functional abilities of a particular child in your life, then that child’s parent should talk with his/her paediatrician or seek out the services of a developmental Paediatrician or a local Occupational Therapist. Where, activities have been suggested, I take no responsibility or liability for any injury or accident occurring as a result of participation in these activities. Children should only engage in these activities with suitable caregiver supervision and child safety should be of highest priority. It is at the caregiver’s discretion to ascertain whether an activity is suitable and appropriate for children in their care.