Silly sand play

Make learning letters a treat with tempting materials kids love to touch. 

Learning Stages

By Becca Ross
Kindergarten & First Grade Teacher

Becca is a schoolteacher and blogs at She loves to cook, bake, garden, sew, quilt, teach and simply spend time with her family. She strives to find art in everyday things.

Practicing writing letters and numbers can become quite boring for young children. While my school district provides prescribed math homework pages, I always like to give parents other options beyond paper and pencil. For some kids, looking at an entire page of numbers that they need to trace can seem like the end of the world. Kindergarten should be fun and the homework shouldn’t push a child into despair!

I always suggest that parents have their kids write numbers and letters in shaving cream on the shower wall, fingerpaint them on large sheets of paper, paint them with water on a dry fence, or write them in the sand. It’s more fun and can often be more developmentally appropriate for young children.

A shadow box with a lid can make a great indoor sandbox. I purchased a small, inexpensive, shadow box at my local craft store. With my coupon, it was only about five dollars. The shadow box I chose has a lid, which I always think is a good idea if you are storing these in a classroom, art cubby, or on the coffee table. My shadow box came unfinished, so I painted it, let it dry, and then added some sand.

Once the sand was added to my shadow box, it became a blank slate. I could have kids practice letters, numbers, or draw pictures with their fingers. Adding natural elements, such as small rocks or sticks, created a different focus. We were able to create art, develop small muscles by picking up and placing the materials, and even use artists’ photos as inspiration for our own creations.