Children Play Observation
I visited a public beach and noticed about a dozen children down on their knees and some seated on the sand. On a closer look at them, I realized they were keenly engrossed in sand play. Occasionally, one or two would rise up to shift positions to another location in the nearly perfect circle they had formed. From my judgment, I discerned that the children were between four and eight years. Additionally, they were a mixture of both boys and girls. Moreover, it was more of a group play regardless of the fact that almost all the children had their own modeling taking place. Further, there were about two main creations being worked on by the children, some teamwork competition sort of activity. Interestingly enough was that the ‘rival camps’ would go about to help each other.
Sand play, as a children activity, promotes social skills (Eickelkamp, 2008). In essence, children are often faced with a situation where they have to borrow some materials from each other; given that, this interaction helps bolster their interaction. For instance, I noticed from my play observation that some rocks, wooden sticks, and a water container were frequently passed around. By sharing play materials, empathy is inculcated in the children as they understand and share the commonness of the challenge they are working on together. Conversely, sand is generally an open minded material which means that there is no right or wrong way to play with. It means that the level of skill is inconsequential, since there cannot be a wrong model of a creation.
Further, with increased interaction with the sand, children get to understand and appreciate its texture, color, and odor leading to a stretch of their imagination. For example, they would note that a particular type of sand is not good for making very long models as opposed to the other type. With this in mind, the children become analytical in some way, and this gives the ability to put to use the appropriate material to its most suitable function. In addition, sand, as a medium which requires practically no skill to use, encourages group participation. More often, children will not feel comfortable to join activities which will potentially portray them as inadequate. However, by engaging in sand play, this fear is eliminated.
Participatory alertness was very high during the sand play activity. Consequently, children exhibited great interest into what they were doing. At no time, I did not observe aggressive quarrelling among them, nor did I record the subsequent crying from either child. Evidently, the level of coordination was excellent with about two distinct leaders from both camps, who were rallying to help the group members. In effect, this level of interest in the activities is potentially beneficial towards the development of the childrens’ cognitive skills (Pamela et al., 2006). In general, children interaction with both wet and dry sand equips them with the practical skills onto the limits each can handle.
Importantly, the sand play had a major role in the development of academic skills such as mathematics and critical judgment. Given that the ability to learn certain academic skills can be taught, nurtured, and sharpened through practical opportunities of play, the use of cans of different volumes during the play was important in developing their experience. The children had set the number of times that each can of sand would be used in various activities in the play. Further, they also used sticks in their play. Notably, the number of sticks used was important depending on the specific roles where these materials have been used.
Vividly, the clearest of the children’s emotion was that of joy. Excitement on the progress of their activities was well noted as there were talks and conversations all through. Occasional laughs could be heard, and the atmosphere was relaxed. When it came to sharing of the materials and containers, there was no tussle or confrontations, but the materials changed hands peacefully. Nevertheless, the children were able to nurture their skills of patients and working in a group. In particular, they had to wait to be given the can from the child who was still using it to collect sand themselves. With the kind of setup, there was of a competitive nature between two teams, the sense of looking forward to a gratifying outcome was observed. Interestingly, surprise was experienced too in cases where the creations turned out to surpass their expectations.
Friendship was also demonstrated firmly by the manner in which the children made an effort to pass across the various materials and their willingness to help each other out. At one instance, pity was an emotion shown when one of the smallest girls tripped and fell over. Noteworthy, the other children unified by saying ‘sorry’ to her. In light of this, children were able to develop skills such as empathy (Broadhead, 2001).
Summing up, the children seemed like they were having a very good time. Great social skills and teamwork were showcased. Moreover, there was also a sense of self-control from the group as I observed no incidence of any misbehavior or ill-intention towards each other. Ideally, though it was some sort of competitive activity, everyone pulled through when it was required. At the end of it all, it was not clearly distinguishable who actually composed which team in the first place.
Broadhead, P. (2001). Investigating Sociability and Cooperation in Four and Five Year Olds in Reception Class Settings. International Journal of Early Years Education, 9 (1): 23–35.
Eickelkamp, U. (2008). (Re)presenting Experience: A Comparison of Australian Aboriginal Children’s Sand Play in Two Settings. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 5(1), 23–50.
Pamela, B., Anna, C., Teresa, C., Bernadette, D., Ruth, H., Jeane, K., Lindsay, H., & Dawn, B. (2006). Documenting ‘Possibility Thinking’: A Journey of Collaborative Enquiry. International Journal of Early Years Education, 14(3), 243–262.