There’s nothing kids love more than playing in the sand. For children it is a creative moment but also something that helps them develop their physical, cognitive and sensory skills. I love using sand with my children, both to teach and play.
Last year I taught my son to write his first ABCs on a Montessori sandboard! He loved it and above all I wasn’t forcing him to learn – it was all a game. It’s the perfect method to teach any child. And when my son started primary school he knew how to write every single letter of the alphabet!
Sandplay: a free and creative game for children.
But let’s try to understand the full potential of learning to write on sand.
“Sand consists of countless tiny grains that make it soft and pliable, giving a different tactile experience depending on whether it is wet or dry, or how wet it is; it may be as liquid as water, as abrasive as fire, as mouldable as the earth, and like earth it holds the meaning of the natural primordial elements”
When playing in the sand, a child digs, scoops and pours solid and liquid material. A unique tactile experience that develops fine hand motility with small but important gestures, teaching children how to help each other by playing together. What’s more, it also develops all the cognitive skills of a child!
Learning to write on sand with the Montessori Method
I love trying to interpret my children’s drawings… That’s why I make sure they have everything they need when want to express themselves.
«Giving child a white sheet of paper and a pencil, allows the child to give free rein to his imagination, and express his emotions. When children draw, they construct and interpret what they draw with empathy and wonder, because they experience everything they draw. What they cannot express in words, they often express in their drawings».
«Children’s drawings are a window to their development and give parents important clues that they should try to understand, to help the growth and development of their children. In the case of very small children, drawing is an expression of the inner and unconscious part of their world: that of their feelings and emotions. Quite unconsciously, children express the fears, joys, changes, difficulties and conflicts they experience in their drawings, such as jealousy towards a younger brother or sister, being afraid of monsters».
According to Maria Montessori, artistic education is based on the indirect preparation to spontaneous drawing by educating the eye and hand. For children to give free rein to artistic expression, they must firstly observe reality while perfecting the movement of the hand.
By giving children “sensorial material”, we are teaching them to draw spontaneously: for example, by playing with smooth and rough boards, children learn to touch gently. Flat wedges for example may be useful to teach a child how to hold a pencil, rather than a pen, and may also be used to teach children how to recognise shapes and colours.
This is how we teach a child to make precise movements with his hands, the very same movements used for spontaneous drawing, that for Maria Montessori does not mean leaving the child to fend for himself when he draws, but giving him the knowledge and skills he needs to express himself spontaneously.
Drawing faces on the sand: an entertaining and educational way to give free rein to your child’s imagination.
UA summer day may be the perfect opportunity to learn and have fun! During an outing at the seaside, I asked my children to draw the faces of their relatives on the sand. The children were all very focused on the task, and had so much fun at the water’s edge where their “works of art” were often washed, forcing them to start all over again with new and original details.
We all had so much fun! Remember that most importantly, a game must remain game, so experiment with your children without expecting results or insisting that they finish the “task”; you will be creating wonderful memories they will remember forever!