Classroom Activity
Sand Constructions
Children's sand environments become fascinating sources for skill building.

AGES 3–4


  • small plastic containers and sand molds (yogurt containers, plastic cups, sand buckets)
  • sand table or outdoor sandbox
  • water and containers for pouring and holding water
  • shovels and plastic spoons
  • craft sticks, sticks, rocks, shells, wood scraps, and small wooden blocks
  • plastic or wooden vehicles, boats, animals, and people
  • smocks
  • camera

Objective: Children will develop creative-thinking, language, social, and fine-motor skills as they work in small groups and use a variety of materials to construct with sand and water.

In Advance: Gather the suggested materials and organize into separate containers.


  1. During group time, explain to children that they will each have the opportunity to work with a small group in the sand area. They will create sand environments using sand, water, and a variety of toys and materials.
  2. Invite small groups of three or four children to work together in the sand area and provide them with the suggested materials. Assist children in mixing water with the sand. Some children may need some initial assistance to learn how to pack sand into molds to make sand buildings. Children can fill plastic containers with water, place them into the sand, and surround them with sand to create swimming pools, a pond, or an ocean. Children may need one or two days to develop their ideas.
  3. Encourage children to add different materials and toys to their sand environments. Discuss with them what they are building. Ask open-ended questions and make suggestions to extend children's ideas.
  4. When children have finished their sand environments, invite their classmates to view their work. Encourage children to describe what they made and how they made it. Photograph each group's sand environment and invite the group to dictate information about the work. Create a display documenting the children's work.

Remember: Children's interest in the project may vary. Some children do not enjoy working with wet sand. Remember to be flexible and to compliment all the children for their creativity and ability to work together..

Curriculum Connection

Sand Science: Will Sand freeze? Will wet sand freeze? Will dry sand freeze? Place a container of each into the freezer and leave it overnight. Ask children to predict what will happen to the containers of sand. Record children's predictions. Develop a language experience chart to record the results of the experiment.

Building a House With Mr. Bumble
by John Wallace
(Candlewick Press, 1997; $7.99)

Dazzling Diggers
by Tony Mitton
(Kingfisher Books, 1997; $8.95)

Learning Through Play: Sand, Water, Clay, and Wood*
by Susan A. Miller, Ed. D.
(Scholastic Inc.; $10.95)