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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

Sand and Water Play

Another post sharing inspiration and reflections from AnjiPlay in China... this time with a focus on Sand and water play

to find out more about the construction materials why not check out Construction Play

or just click onto the tag or category AnjiPlay to find all the other posts I have written so far...

What I noticed was that these were not small sandboxes. The schools had made the considered decision to create sand areas that are both expansive AND deep so that the children can really explore. They felt that often sandboxes were too shallow and did not allow children to feel the element of excitement to dig deep, and a large sandbox ensured that there was space for big projects and also many projects at the same time without the feeling of competing for space. In this sense it create a democratic play and learning space where all the children have the opportunity to explore and influence the nature of the land.

Connected to every sand area I saw was easy access to water... either taps directly feeding into the sand area (sandbox as a word feels too small to use here) or just close by. I like both ideas... the continuous supply of water directly into the sand created rivers and flow which inspired the children's play... I also like it when children need to carry their water from one place to another and have to solve the problem of how to do this... effectively, with the most fun, to meet the needs of their project, to make new discoveries, to test their physical strength etc etc etc... Holes were being dug, channels, bridges, pots filled and poured from one to another, pretend cooking, sensory experiences, mud, mounds... and the children had access to lots of loose parts to help them explore - in a variety of materials... plastic, metal, wood, bamboo... as the teachers were aware that each material allowed the children to explore the water and sand in new ways... different weights, different sounds etc each affecting their senses in different ways and impacting their cognitive understanding of the world around them.

Sand could be explored with and without water.

Water could be explored with and without sand.

There were hosepipes to spray each other with water, to squeal with delight, to learn about consent.

Of course the children playing in these "messy" and wet areas all had access to waterproofs so that the children did not have to be inhibited by the risk of getting dirty or wet, but could have full focus on the play.

it rains often in Anji, China. So there is a plentiful supply of water. The water is not potable, but then that is the same of the water in their homes, so not once did I see the children drinking from hosepipes, or taps... they all KNOW that they drink from their water bottles.

Water could be played with on a big scale and also on a small scale, with many and alone or with a few. The water play ares also covered a large area so that the children had the space to really explore without disturbing other children not playing with water. A group I observed playing with water on a big splashing spraying kind there was also a space to the side, but far enough from the water for children to go to that had had enough water for the day... they could peel off their waterproofs and hang them on the mobile clothes hanger... then start building, creating and playing freely with the materials there. They were separate, but still in close proximity to the educators that were observing the water play and ensuring that all children were safe at the same time as gathering documentation for the dialogue later...

Again I have more photos than is possible to share in one blogpost, and films too, which I keep thinking I will share, but feel for these posts I will keep it to just photos..

loose parts and resources for sand and water play

this was an area where they were spraying each other with water from a hose pipe... I have that on film rather than photo

role play

channels... and the roof of an climbing frame now dismantled to be used as a loose part

creating rooms in the sand area

the joy of being buried in sand

no plastic spades here

a large area to explore

the side of the pool filled with sand

lots of water left to drain from recent play...

pipes and other loose parts in the old swimming pool now used for sand and water play

using an old swimming pool for sand and water play

at the botom of the photo you can see the taps directly into the sand area

lots and lots of taps so there is enough for all the children to work on filling buckets and water cans and do not have to have to disturb the flow of their play

you can see that drainage is also considered for big water play

taps, of different kinds, pumps, and hose pipes... many ways to access water

and the area around the taps are different... providing different experiences

Islands are created

and water to clean up afterwards

water and colour... in the sand, and other surfaces... so the children could observe the different ways water and colour are absorbed

even local public playgrounds have been inspired by the AnjiPlay preschools...

mobile water stations...

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