I went to a technology seminar this fall. In one of the sessions the presenter was supposedly sharing innovative uses of an Ipad with young children. When she shared the app that allows a child to experience all the tactile sensory input that they would writing in sand “without all the mess” I should have walked out. I find that right up there with the Easy Bake oven app and the Play doh computer program. You cannot replace actual sensory experiences with computer simulated environments for young children.
When you use your finger to write letters and numbers in sand, your whole arm is involved. You are getting the feel for the roundness or straightness of the formation. You can see the numeral or letter that you made and compare it to what you are looking at. (The app mentioned above had a self correcting feature, so no matter what motion the child made, the letter always turned up correctly on the screen. How is someone supposed to learn this way?) You can also easily erase by shaking the tray allowing you to focus on the creating process and not the final outcome each time.
Plus, it’s really fun and it feels good! It is a very low stress way of letting young children experience letter and numeral formation as they hone their motor development.
This activity lends itself well to one-one time with children who may be struggling a bit more with fine motor abilities.
Take regular sandbox sand, pour it on a tray or cookie sheet with about a 1 inch lip and let the children use a finger as a crayon or pencil. I put a few alphabet charts and some numeral cards on the table for them to copy. Some of the children enjoyed writing their names in the sand on their own.
So pour some sand on a few trays and enjoy playing with writing.