Table top sandbox play in preschool

I hadn’t set out sand in the sensory table until this past week and boy did the children love it!

Along with the sand, I put out a large shallow box, some shovels, and some trucks for “tools for play”…

The box is on the table and the sand started out in the plastic bin. The children used shovels to add sand into the box then used the trucks to push the sand around…

By adding the shallow box, the children had a large open flat surface to explore the sand on. This led to some great imaginative play. The children made mountains and roads and tunnels…

At the end of each day, I poured all of the sand back into the bin so the children could start with a clean surface each day (well almost clean)…

The children added their own tools for play throughout the week as well. I have a shelf with all kinds of buckets and scoops that they can choose from as they wish. I also have a set of wooden blocks I picked up from a construction site for the children to use if they wish. Sometimes, the table gets a little overloaded…

I highly recommend table top sand play but keep a broom handy!

By |2011-09-10T06:00:59+00:00September 10th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Kierna September 10, 2011 at 6:35 am - Reply

    I would say that the most popular things ever in my classroom are sand, water & play dough. I got a tip somewhere (can’t remember from whom) to mark off an area with masking tape on the floor and encourage the children to brush the spilt sand into it to be brushed up later. I have a big rectangle shape under my sand tray & so far it’s working great.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 10, 2011 at 9:32 am - Reply

      What a SMART idea Kierna! The children love to sweep at our school – this would give them a place to aim for instead of brushing sand all over the place:)

  2. Sheila September 10, 2011 at 11:01 am - Reply

    I really like the idea of making wood pieces available to the children. I will suggest this to my staff. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 10, 2011 at 11:40 am - Reply

      You are welcome – I would imagine folks in your church could donate scraps for you Sheila!

  3. kristin @preschool daze September 11, 2011 at 8:07 am - Reply

    brilliant! because what i notice is that kids want to move things OUT of the sensory boxes into something.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 11, 2011 at 11:10 am - Reply

      Yes – they really do want to move things from one area to the other so might as well build that process into your planning!

  4. [email protected] September 13, 2011 at 1:08 am - Reply

    I love this teaching idea. I think it adds so much to include something more than a bucket and shovel to even a humble sandbox (if you don’t have the table top variety). I recently created a dinosaur dig with bones, etc. I posted about it here

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 13, 2011 at 1:10 am - Reply

      Oh that is super cool! We will have to give that a try!

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok