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A Sand and Water Table - Great Fun for Kids
Creative Sand and Water Play is Fun
Children love to play with sand, love to play with water, and love combining the two even more! If you can't get to the beach frequently, or when the weather's bad, a sand and water table at home means your kids can have this kind of messy, creative, brain-building play as often as they like, but the mess is contained by the table. There's a good reason why preschools have play tables like these!
Water Play Ideas
Water and sand are both highly educational play experiences for children (though you don't have to tell them that!).
Water play teaches many kids of movement and co-ordination - for instance, hand-eye co-ordination when pouring from one container to another, as well as developing hand and arm muscles. Children also learn a great deal about how liquids behave - pouring, squirting, leaking - and how objects in liquids can float and sink, or hold more or less.
You don't need to buy special toys for water play. Many items around the house can be put to use for playing and exploring with water, for example colanders, strainers and sieves; jugs, teapots and coffee pots; buckets large and small; sponges and cloths; watering cans (especially the kind which sprinkle rather than pour); funnels; whisks (especially with a bit of soap, to make bubbles); plastic bottles and condiment containers (great for squirting); things made of different materials which sink or float; plus of course any toy which won't be harmed by being in water. I'm sure your kids, like mine, have a collection of bath toys - sharks, dinosaurs, boats, planes, who knows what else! - they can also be used for water play in the sink or wading pool.
Choose Your Sand and Water Play Table
While you can certainly build your own sand and water play table, it's a lot simpler to buy one of these well-designed and safety-tested items from Amazon.
Sand Play Tips and Ideas
Playing with sand provides learning opportunities similar to but different from water play. Many water play toys and found objects can also be used for sand.
Dry sand is a strange material which behaves like a solid in some ways, but a liquid in others. You can stand a toy dinosaur on it and it won't sink in like it would in water - but you can pour it through a funnel like water. It's very useful for kids to play with both wet and dry sand so they can explore both.
Wet sand lends itself very well to molding, in buckets, empty food containers, or anything else which has a hollow side that's not undercut, so it can release the sand shape. Cookie cutters, the more fancy the better, make great impressions in wet sand. Kids can also make impressions in wet sand - like reverse molding, but also simply drawing or writing in the sand. Anything stick-like will work for this. Toy cars and other vehicles can also make cool-looking tracks in the sand, as can toy animals and birds. Plastic combs with some teeth removed to widen the gaps can be fun toys for this too.
Sand can make entire worlds. Introduce people, animals, or dinosaurs and a new land of pretend play opens up - in fact it can be a new and different land every day. Sometimes these can take the form of a flat map drawn in thesand, but even more fun is to be had by sculpting the sand into hills and valleys for the toy characters to explore and live in.
One traditional type of toy for sand play is construction machinery. Toy diggers, loaders, bulldozers and trucks make great sand toys to give your children hours of fun.
Toys for Sand and Water Play
The Melissa and Doug deluxe standing easel is an evergreen gift and will be a favorite toy for years to come. This kids easel is sturdily made, double sided, comes with blackboard and dry erase surfaces and a paper roll holder for paper, folds for storage, and will keep your young artist(s) happy for hours.
Make your child the coolest - and the happiest - in the neighborhood when you give them this Razor electric scooter for Christmas. Reliable, quiet electric motor, choice of cool colors, and classic scooter styling in miniature makes this a bestselling item.
NXT is the new generation of LEGO Mindstorms robot kits, a great Xmas gift for the "builders" on your list. Works with existing LEGO Technic pieces too! Build whatever your imagination can come up with, then program it yourself to make it come to "life".
LEGO Advent Calendar 2011 provides 24 days of family fun.
With a tiny set or a minifigure behind every window from Dec 1st to Dec 24th, the LEGO Advent calendar is fun for the whole family, and after the holidays your kids can add the pieces and figures to their existing LEGO for even more long-lasting play value. This year there's a selection of different LEGO Advent Calendars!
The LEGO Republic Gunship is a great LEGO Star Wars model with lots of playability and interesting construction for hours of fun.
Who doesn't remember the Death Star? Here it is in all its huge (over 3400 pieces) looming glory, with super laser and enough weapons and defences to make any Star Wars fan happy.
My daughter used to love playing with the sand and water table at her preschool - and so did all the other kids! In fact it was so popular they had to take turns. How about your child or children - do they like this kind of play? What's the most fun?