Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Supporting physical development in early childhood
Supporting physical development in early childhood

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

6.5 Sand, water, mud and malleable materials

The potential of play with sand, water, mud and malleable materials for children’s holistic development cannot be overstated.

Large outdoor sandpits or digging plots with equipment such as buckets, spades, rakes and wheelbarrows provide a wealth of opportunity for gross motor movement. Especially when damp, sand and mud are heavy and add weight and resistance, requiring physical exertion.

Smaller indoor sand and water trays, with a variety of containers and bottles (upcycled materials will do fine), scoops, funnels, jugs, sieves and spoons promote fine motor control, hand–eye coordination and a multi-sensory play experience.

A child playing with sand in a sand pit
Figure 13

Activity with playdough includes squashing, squeezing, poking, kneading, flattening, pinching and rolling. These actions develop muscle control in the fingers, hands, wrists and arms that is required for holding and controlling a pen or other tools. The addition of plastic cutlery, scissors, rolling pins and shape cutters, for example, offers further opportunity for movement.

There is no right or wrong way to play with playdough. It is a very therapeutic sensory experience. It can also be a creative activity in which children can create sculptures or engage in imaginary roleplay, such as baking.