Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sand Pail, Shovels, and Sunglasses

Four things to do with sand pails, shovels, and sunglasses—none of them at the beach.

It’s July and your home is overflowing with summer gear. The kids are begging for something to do. If a trek to the beach is out of the question, check out the list of activities that puts the summer gear to good use. Not only will your little ones have lots of fun, they will also practice some of those much-needed skills they learned in school. These activities reinforce rote counting, color recognition, fine and gross motor skills, the ability to compare sizes, and categorizing skills.
1. Sorting Fun—Can you sort the sand bricks?
2. Sand Pail Relay— Who can fill their sand pail first?
3. Water Play—How many scoops does it take to fill your sand pail?
4. Scavenger Hunt—My sand pail is red. What color is yours?

Activity 1—Can you sort the sand bricks?

This activity is a quick way to assess your child’s knowledge of colors.

Ages: 3-6
Time to complete: 20-30 minutes

Matching sets of sand pails and shovels, in several different colors
Matching sunglasses (optional)
Assortment of building blocks in various colors*

*Depending upon manufacturer, several different combinations of building brick colors are available. I used the colors that matched the sand pails from our local dollar store.

1. Prior to the activity, arrange the sand pails, the shovels, and sunglasses, as shown. Place a pile of building bricks in front of the sets of sand pails.

2. Tell the children that they are going to be color detectives. They will wear their detective glasses to find which colors go into each of the sand pails.
3. Children then sort the items by color, creating a set for each color, as shown.

4. Take it further by ‘accidentally’ dropping the wrong color into the sand pail and ask the children to find the incorrectly sorted block. Children will love catching your mistakes when they discover the wrong color inside the sand pail.

Hint: Some of the sunglasses have several colors on them. When the children sort the sunglasses, ask them which part of the sunglasses match the sand pail and shovel.



A great way to for the kids to exercise as well as practice their balancing skills, this summer relay is easy, inexpensive, and fun.
Ages: 4-7
Time to complete: 20-30 minutes


Matching sets of sand pails and shovels.
Assortment of building blocks in various colors

**This activity can be completed by 1 or more children. Adapt the instructions to meet the needs of your group.
1. Divide the children into two groups. Have them sit in a line behind a pile of building blocks with a matching colored shovel beside the pile of blocks. Make sure that each pile has the same number of blocks.
2. When you signal go, the first child in the line stands and places a building block on the shovel. He then walks with that block to the end of the room and drops the block into the sand pail. He returns to the line, handing the shovel to the next child in line.
3. Repeat step 2 until all of the blocks are in the sand pails. The first team to finish wins.

Add to the challenge:
Instead of conducting the activity with the colors already sorted, place the pile of building bricks in the middle and have the children sort on their own as they complete the relay. If you choose this option, be prepared for a bit of chaos—and more laughter, too.


This fun outdoor activity is a good way for your child to review rote counting, as well as have some splashy fun on hot summer days.

Ages: 3-6
Time to complete: 20-30 minutes

Several sand pails of different sizes
Small outdoor pool (optional)

*Variation: Sand can be used as a substitution for water.

1. Before heading outdoors, have your child select at least three different sizes of sand pails from the beach gear. This provides a great springboard discussion about how shapes affect how much water or sand will actually fit into the pail.
2. Take the pails and shovels outside.
3. Fill the largest pail with water.
Ask: How many of the small pails of water do you think it will take to fill the medium pail? *If you are using your outdoor pool, use that as the water source and conduct the activity with the medium and large sand pails.
4. Fill the medium sand pail with water by filling and counting the number of refills needed.

As you are already outdoors, take this opportunity for a mini-lesson on volume. Ask: Will the water in the big sand pail fit into the medium sand pail? Help your child pour the water from the big pail to the medium pail? Ask: Why do you think it didn’t fit?


This color-themed scavenger hunt will keep your kiddos busy and thinking when the afternoons are too hot to head outdoors. They will enjoy playing color detective and finding various items to fill their sand pails.
Ages: 4-7
Time to complete: 20-30 minutes

Matching sets of sand pails and shovels, in several different colors
Toys and household items that will fit into the sand pails

1. Tell the children that they are going to play color detective.
2. Have the children select a matching set of sand pails and sunglasses.
3. Send the children on a scavenger hunt to find items that are the same color as their pails and sunglasses AND fit into the sand pail.
This activity not only reinforces color concepts, it also practices size estimation skills. Some children may realize that they can squish a stuffed animal to fit into the sand pail—a great way to start a discussion on density.

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