Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I discovered this website while doing some research on writing with young children and now get her emails. This one on Sand and Water play sure spells out the benefits! Marianne Gibb's feels that motor skills learned through play and without a pencil in hand are most important for children 3 and 4 - leading into later success with a pencil. Check out her website. And as an aside her webinar on pre-writing skills is packed with ideas: 


Spring into Development with Sand and Water Play!  
Create exciting learning experiences naturally with sand and water play.  Whether you use an elevated sand/water table or simply a large plastic container on the floor, your young children will automatically engage in play that supports development of multiple domains.  Keep it fresh--change your manipulatives often just like you do in all other playful learning centers in your classroom or at home.  The skills children develop during sand/water play support the whole child in all domains of learning for a lifetime!  

Cognitive:  Children play with a purpose and build cognitive skills like sorting, problem solving, investigating, exploring, explaining, critical/creative thinking, classifying, comparing volume and measurement properties at the sand/water table.  Watch the brainwork begin when children dig for and examine buried treasure!                                                 

Physical-Motor:  Standing at the sand/water table facilitates the use of fingers, hands, arms, and trunk while maintaining overall balance and coordination of the body.  Playing and digging with shovels, funnels, and scoops in sand or water provides resistive activity, which improves body awareness.  Skills of eye-hand coordination and grasping are needed for future writing are practiced at the sand/water table through play. 

Social:  Interactive and pretend play is how children learn and develop the social skills of verbal communication, sharing, helping, compromising, requesting, offering, and friendship building.  Consider the sand/water table a smaller version of the beach!

Speech and Language:  The gathering of children around an emotionally engaging activity promotes the use of spontaneous speech and language--a must for all young children developing skills for reading and writing!

Sensory:  Playing in sand, birdseed, or water allows children to feel different textures through their hands.  This in turn gives the brain the opportunity to process a variety of tactile experiences in order to understand different sensations (i.e. grainy, smooth, dry, wet, etc...).  Stereognosis, the ability to comprehend an item by touching only, develops when children feel and identify items that they cannot see (e.g. toys hidden in sand). Encourage exploration of manipulatives using tools like tongs if a child resists touching media directly.

Tip:  If the idea of "messiness" is preventing you from providing the excellent learning opportunity of sand/water play, spread shower curtains out under your sand/water activity center to minimize clean-up.  Remember - it's about the children!

Spring Into Development Right Now....Write Out of the Box!

Dr. Marianne Gibbs, EdD, OTR

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