Kids of all ages love to play with sand. Unfortunately, the days of sandboxes are mostly gone. While some schools may have water and sand tables, not all do. Portable sensory bins are the perfect way to incorporate sand into a variety of different therapy sessions to work on skills. The best part is being able to bring a little bit of the beach into your summertime with students. Think outside of the box and have fun!
Build a Traveling Beach
To start this activity, purchase a clear container which isn’t too tall to use as your portable sandbox. An under the bed box may be perfect. Buy enough sand to create a mini beach in a box. Remember that sand is heavy, so get one which is large enough for a small group to use and may be carried around. If you don’t want to fill with as much sand, toss in some glass-like stone gems that they have at craft and dollar stores.
Once this is ready, you will be able to mix it up in a wide variety of ways. Depending on what you are working on, you can make your portable beach hide different types of treasures for kids to find. These treasures are able to focus on skills needed for individual students.
Finding Treasures in the Sand
Hidden objects may be as simple as seashells that are marked with letters or numbers for a game. For kids working on rhyming, hide different combinations of words that rhyme to seek out. Summer objects vocabulary is another option that can be used for social skill building, speech and language, or even fine motor. Be sure to have some plastic shovels and sifters to make it more of a beach scavenger hunt in the sand.
When it’s actually time to search in the sand for things, you can make clue cards for older children to problem solve together. This team building will be a bonus of other skills you may be working on. Include whatever you may be working on at the time to boost practice and self-confidence.
Some kids may not like to dig in sand. You can still use the sand but place large clamshell halves in it so they can be grabbed easily. Use the hidden side of the shell to make it into a matching game. When a match is found they have to practice hopping on one foot five times, use a special word in a mini skit, or anything else you can think of which is engaging. The shell could also have letters to practice articulation or numbers to indicate a hidden motor skill that they need to work on.
To extend this activity for home, therapists can send home a zipper top bag filled with sand and hidden items inside. Include a sheet on how to play I Spy in the sand home version. Be sure to have information that will assist multilingual families to feel confident trying this on their own.