All Activities Issue - Sand & Water: Sifting Sand
Sand play can stimulate scientific inquiry.
- Grades: PreK–K
- Materials to sift sand through, such as
- Fabric netting
- Fly swatters
- Plastic needlepoint canvas
- Chart paper and marker
- Sand in a sand table or individual basins
- Containers to hold sand, such as empty margarine tubs and plastic cups
Objective: Children will use the scientific skills of predicting, observing, and drawing conclusion! and use fine-motor skills to pour sand through objects with holes in them.
- Bring the sifting materials to group time. One at a time, encourage children to look at and hold each object. As they do, children might talk about any experiences they've had with the object or what they think it is used for. Ask children to think about what all the materials have in common. Explain to children that all the items have openings and that all can be used to sift sand.
- Encourage children to make predictions about how sand will flow through each material. Hold up one item and ask, "If we pour sand through this, would the sand flow quickly or slowly?" Draw a picture of each item in a column on a piece of chart paper and, as children predict, write the words fast or slow next to the appropriate picture.
- Together, carry the sifting materials to your sandbox and hang the chart on a wall next to it, at children's eye level.
- Suggest that children work in pairs, with one child pouring sand while the other holds a sifting object. As children pour, ask them if the sand is flowing quickly or slowly through each object. Write or ask children to write-their answers in a separate column on the chart.
- Later, gather as a group to compare results and predictions. Help children discuss their findings and see if they can develop any generalizations about their discoveries. You might ask, "What do you notice about all the items that had sand flowing slowly? Is there anything different between those items and the ones that had the sand flowing faster?" Or, try asking, "Does the size of the holes in the objects have anything to do with how fast or slow the sand flows?" Children might need to refer to the chart and look again at the actual objects before they draw conclusions.
REMEMBER Look for other play activities that offer opportunities for children to predict, observe, experiment, record results, and make generalizations.
For fun, as children sift, they can sing the following song to the tune of
"If You're Happy and You Know It."
Sift the sand through the holes, through the holes
Sift the sand through the holes, And see how fast (or slow) it goes,
Sift the sand through the holes, through the holes.
For younger children: Provide objects for sand sifting that are easy to manipulate and have larger, rather than smaller, openings. Allow children to explore freely with the objects.
For older children: Invite children to hunt around the classroom for other objects that they think might work as "sand sifters." Later, let children experiment with these new sifters and chart their findings.