Wet Sand Exploration

Child developing sensory experience while playing in a sand box outside

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to use their hands and fingers to explore and interact with the environment. Rich sensory experiences are a primary way babies and toddlers learn. This simple activity is both soothing and engaging, as children make comparisons, understand cause-and-effect, and remember what they’ve learned for later play.

Materials Needed:

  • Bin, box, large baking sheet, or similar
  • Play sand
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Cups and shovels

Participants: This activity is intended for adult/child interaction.


  • Step 1: Offer your child a bin filled with dry sand. Encourage them to touch it with both their fingers and toes. Offer the cups and shovels for scooping and pouring.
  • Step 2: Later, spray the sand with the squirt bottle (or show your child how to do so). Once again, explore the sand by touching and playing with it. Fill a cup with sand and turn the cup over. Notice that it falls apart.
  • Step 3: Continue to wet the sand, exploring how it is different as you add more liquid. Show your child how to fill a cup and gently turn it over to make a sandcastle. Allow the sand to dry and play with it again on another day. Ask your child, “Do you want to play with wet sand or dry sand?” to encourage them to recall their previous experience.
Child developing sensory experience while playing in a sand box outside
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