When it comes to sandcastles, what is your style? Are you an architectural builder who uses buckets, mold, cups, and shovels to construct your castle? Or do you prefer a more abstract, surrealist approach to your building? Using water, dripping sand, and alternative designs to form your castle? No matter your style and approach – sand is a great way to activate and explore the senses!
Sand is a perfect vehicle to provide sensory input for kids because its properties are so dynamic. Sand itself has many different textures; soft, fine, rough, dry, wet, pebbles, rocks, sea glass, and shell pieces. It can be lightweight as it falls and sifts through your fingers or heavy and gloppy when water is added. It sticks together with a little water or runs like mud with a lot of water. A child can absorb so much by exploring all the properties that sand provides. Building sandcastles and sculptures is a great way to explore it all!
My kids each prefer a different method to their sand creations, my daughter chooses to have very straight lines, use molds to make the shapes of her building, and a signature “castle” look to her sand sculpture. My son, on the other hand, prefers to pile the sand up and let things fall in a more abstract and organic fashion. He uses rocks, shells, and seaweed to define the structure. Either way, they both really love the sensory input that building sandcastles provides and the creative outlet of building their own structures, cities, and sculptures.
My son especially, loves playing with sand. He has a sensory processing disorder that means he NEEDS to feel and experience the textures of the world around him because he craves that input. Playing with sand is an activity that he can immerse his whole body in to receive all the stimulus he wants. To add even more sensory input to his play, I introduced a couple spray bottles filled with water and food coloring in them. He can use them to change the color of his creations or just spray patterns in the sand around himself. They can be used in the sandbox at home or we can bring them with us to the beach!
Whether you prefer to build with smooth sides and defined walls like this traditional sandcastle:
or you just want to make a sand dinosaur like this:
Go out and enjoy some sensory time discovering all the different textural properties of sand. Don’t forget the food coloring spray bottles!
For more information on sensory processing check out these resources below:
Sensory Processing Issues Explained
The Unbearable Sensation of Being: Living With Sensory Processing Disorder
99 Sensory Activities For An Child