Thursday, February 12, 2009

Circles in the sand . . .

Can you name that 80's tune? Don't blame me if you are humming it the rest of the day! :)

Alrighty - this activity is an addendum to the previous post. (It doesn't have to be, of course, though!) I "made" my own homemade sand tray - check out an "official sand tray" used in Montessori classrooms here. They are beautiful, and larger than the one shown here, but pricier and - guess what - I'm sure you have the materials for this one in your kitchen!

Here's what you need: a shallow (this is important) container with a lid (notice my lovely always unmanicured hands to show you some perspective)

and some sand (or like substance)
Here's why you should do it: Kids are sensory little people! This activity provides many reps with (hopefully) little mess, and they can practice making letters, numbers, shapes, drawing pictures, or just have fun exploring! Once again, for all those "perfectionistic" kids - if they mess up and get in a wad, just shake the sand! Who knew that learning to write could be so much fun?!

First, if you are practicing letters (instead of just playing or making shapes), trace over the letter for some concrete muscle memory.
Then, you model the correct letter formation (starting at the top)

Then let your kiddo have a turn (yes, I know this can be fun for you, too!)

The finished letter. Shake to smooth out and repeat. Shake and repeat. Shake and repeat. Shake and repeat. I guess you can figure that out, though, huh? :)
Note: It doesn't take a lot of sand to make this work. You want just enough so that when a stroke is made, you can see the bottom of the dish easily. Oh, and did you wonder where I found such white, perfect sand? It's sugar!
Open up your spice/staples cabinet (don't judge mine! ;) and think outside the box. . .

These are just a few things that I pulled out that could be fun - and not harmful if ingested by the 15 month old who might want to get in on the action! Oats, sesame seeds, bread crumbs, dried parsley, cinnamon, cocoa, poppy seeds, salt - you name your spice - and talk about a sensory experience! How fun to smell some heavenly cinnamon while making letters!

Oh, and when I taught, I put colored sand (found at dollar stores) in my sand tray. Change your tray out with every holiday or season, or every spill, (hee hee), and have fun!


  1. Laura Beth, these are awesome! I am loving this new blog!!! Since we moved, I've had Jack (just turned 4) home full-time since we haven't found a preschool here, so this has been great to help me keep him interested and out of trouble :) You would think with as many small people as we have around here, these would be fresh on my mind, but they are NOT...appreciate your ideas so much!

  2. Laura Beth this is fabulous! Thank you so much for doing it. I can't wait to try out some of these ideas, particularly the writing in sand.
    Lawton's preacademic skills are definitely advanced in my opinion. It is so evident you're working with him in these great activities.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing! I found your blog through Christine's. I am a former 1st grade teacher, but have been out of the classroom for almost 2 years now. Your blog has helped me remember so much that I had forgotten! Do you have any activities that I can do with my VERY active almost 18 month old? I am definitely going to do the sand for sensory awareness! Thanks! Meghan Diddle

  4. Great blog! I need to be doing more of this! I'll definitely use your ideas!

  5. Hey Laura Beth! I found your blog through Laura (Muse) Brown's suggestion/blog and I am so glad I did! You are so awesome to use your skills and knowledge and share your ideas with the rest of us. I'll add you to my Google Reader and look forward to gaining more ideas! Hope you and your family are well...take care!