Blocks are an essential element of early childhood, but perhaps its time to change it up a bit!
Sandbags are unlike any common construction tool. A departure from wood blocks, the shape of a sandbag is only constrained by their flexible sleeve. In response, building with Sandbags causes children to rethink their construction techniques and learn new methods to create their masterpieces. It’s a new take on spatial awareness!
Use them outside in the sand, inside in the block area, or for imaginative play. Sandbags are dynamic enough to be used everywhere in the classroom.
Bags come in two sizes – the small are about the size of a cucumber when filled (3 1/2″ x 7″), and the large are about the size of a spaghetti squash when filled (about 5″ x 11″).
**Bags arrive empty, sewn on one end, so children can help fill them with sand or other material. Once filled, simply fasten the other end and unleash the imagination!
Note: bags start out white and turn a beautiful golden brown with use. 😉
Quantities: 30 Small or 20 Large
Appropriate for 18 months +
Where to use them?
In the sensory table, sandbox, block area, water table, anywhere you have inquisitive children who like to invent, build and problem solve.
What to do with them?
- Shore up ramps
- Build walls, dams, and berms
- Compare, measure, and weigh
- Use them for goals, targets, and base
- Create enclosures for toy animals and people
- Add weight to trikes, wagons, and wheelbarrows
- Add weight to buckets, baskets, and bags for gross motor play
Filling: Filling sandbags is great way for children to work together to achieve a shared outcome. Opportunities for negotiation are natural when choosing filler materials, determining how full is full, and which child will hold the bag open while the other pours. We’ve found that kids tend to require less intervention by adults when filling sandbags, simply because they are already mastering skills such as pouring, filling, and dumping. Teachers can use this activity as a time for making observations about children’s growing social relationship skills. We suggest you leave several bags open for the children to have the opportunity to fill and dump as an ongoing activity.
Charting: Teachers often look for ways to turn ordinary moments into learning opportunities. Try charting or graphing children’s choices on filler materials for the sandbags. Perhaps you offer the children four choices, let’s say sand, gravel, plastic pellets, or beans. What is their criteria for choosing? Are they predicting that certain fillers will yield specific characteristics like texture, water hold capabilities, or different weights? Chart or graph this information to better help the children analyze their data.
Sandbags with Blocks: We most often see children using sandbags outdoors, especially with water to make river and stream formations. Perhaps this is due to the inclination to use them outside. And yes, we love them outdoors, especially with ramps! But we also think using sandbags indoors as block and dramatic play props is long overdue. When children combine the rigid unit or hollow blocks with the pliable sandbags, the result can be leaning towers, elevated roadways, and unconventional tunnels. When grouped and stacked, sandbags can take on the shape of an igloo, hut, mountain ridge and more. Sandbags are often used by children to represent soft cushions, beds for baby dolls, and nesting places.
Rainy Day Motor Play: We all have those days in which going outside for some much needed motor play just doesn’t work out. Use your sandbags to work those big muscles. Try passing one or more Small bags around a circle. Make stepping stones, bases or jump over a low wall of Large bags. Fill a two-handled cloth grocery bag with a Large or many Smalls and invite pairs of children to tote them across the room. Store a few Small Sandbags along with your bean bags.