The Beach: Engineer and Artist Training Ground

Next time you’re at the beach, notice the kids digging in the sand.  Very likely, these kids are the next generation of engineers, geologists, road builders, artists and chefs.

Creative play flourishes at the beach.
Just watch.

The engineers, road builders and mechanics build elaborate river systems, dikes, canals and cities.
The geologists  experiment with different kinds of sand.
The cooks and artists make mud pies, ice cream cakes and castles.
They all get sand in the hair, in the shorts, and up their noses.
And, they don’t care.

The Goodman Pool in Madison has a great sand area. They have three places to fill buckets with water and plenty of sand toys to move the sand around. There are always lots of kids playing together amicably. Most don’t know each other, but it’s not uncommon for schoolmates to see each other. It’s a happy, creative and diverse scene.

As I watched these kids play, I thought about all the learning taking place:

1) Share your toys.
2) Don’t mess with other people’s structures without asking.
3) Sand structures don’t last, but they’re fun while they last.
4) Water flows downhill.
5) Sand will eventually absorb the water.
6)Sand is fun, fun, fun. You can make anything with sand.
7) And, they’re role-playing. Pretending to excavate the land and make magic cake is a great way to practice new skills and explore ideas.

They don’t know they’re learning, but they are. Kids who play in the sand  know that sand will not make a good foundation for a house. They know that a beach will not stay put in a rain storm. They may not use the words erosion or unstable, but they know what these words mean.  They also know how to share and get along with others. They share their mud pie with others and work out their differences. These kids are learning skills that they’ll have forever–skills they can’t get while sitting inside.

What are your kids learning when they play in the sand?  Do let me know. 

You can find Diane Schwartz observing and guiding future generations of engineers and artists at the Goodman Pool on Monday afternoons during the summer. Like what you see here? Register for this blog and get a free 11-page Bubble Activity Guide. Just click on the home page and type in your email.

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