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I am busy doing my planning for the different areas in the classroom and am now starting to think of alternative ideas for the sand and water trays. Have thought of the usual making sandcastles, fishing games etc but was wondering of anyone had any further ideas that had worked well?


Sarah xoxoxo

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we sometimes set up farm or zoo in the sand tray, put socks in sand for children to fill, pond scene, sea scene, i'm always looking for good ideas for sand and water... if i think of any more I will let you know......

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My class loved ice in the water tray...i put in blocks of different sizes and they just liekd picking it up and feeling it and then checking which blocks had melted. thye also liked touching each other (and me) with their cold hands and were trying to wokr out who had the coldest hands! :D I put some different coluors in and they were guessing what colour the water would be at the end of the day. Smelly ice was according to one of my boys 'disgusting but really fun'.

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Another use for ice in the trays is to freeze large blocks (freezer space allowing) with different things in them.

I then give the children the tools and let them excavate the ice cubes.

Works well with small dinosaurs during monsters and minibeasts.


I have a tomy set of floating igloos on islands. Bought from Amazon £9.99. Each igloo lifts up to find either a penguin, polar bear or eskimo underneath. Add this to the water with ice cubes etc.


syringes are always fun


I do "Billy's Bucket" a story that I fopund quite by accident. Billy wants a bucket for his birthday, what can he see in it?

I add mermaids, divers, boats, shells, jewels, fish, octopus etc to the water and some clear buckets (just for water play, the sand scratches them!!)


Counting Activities

5 speckled frogs, add a plank across the tray for a log, float plastic lily pads, bubble wrap for frog spawn, green cellophane for pond weed etc.

5 ducks and a Mummy duck (I have little colour changing ducks from Hawkins Bazaar)


Clear tubing with syringes, jugs and funnels, great with coloured water.


Smells a bit but I sometimes add a few vegetables, bowls and ladles for the children to make soup.


Another soup and better smelling version is to add those funny shaped drink coolers you can buy. I have a great big tub of fruit shaped ones.


Dolls and sponges, soap and flannels. Add some towels and maybe baby shampoo.


Tea bags and a tea set.


I hope maybe one or two of these may provide some inspiration, it's the ones that I could think of off the top of my head.



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I bought some brightly coloured sand and gravel (the sort you get for fish tanks), and some plastic gemstones. The children like to sort and sieve. :) You could add shells, too.

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Once a week we put sponges and bubbles plua some of the wquipment that needs washing. This varies from the home corner equipment, items of construction, palydough tools etc etc. it often brings childtreninto the water who avoid it or seldom use it. They appeaer to ove construciton at the momment the lego and mobilo had a lot of use this term


It also works as a dual purpose, toys get washed regularly and with no fuss!!



They loved cereal boxes in the sand last week, in use all session.




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I like to add glitter to my sand and water sometimes - in fact I like to add glitter to anything I can - no idea what would happen but what about adding cooking oil to the water as I have never tried it but could be fun if not dangerous when it gets slopped on the floor.

I love the idea of making soup in the water tray and the tea bag and cups - do they try drinking it?


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I've only ever had one child try drinking it, but he used to try to eat everything (including large handfuls of sand xD:o ) at every opportunity.


They usually like making cups of tea for me first and if I pretend to drink it, then they will usually imitate us.


I too put sponges and toys in for a wash on a regular basis.


I do a rockpool with fishing nets, pebbles, shells and old coins. Add some plastic fish for the children to try catching (I also have a couple of magnetic fishing sets as an alternative.)

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A few more ideas:


Items for floating and sinking investigations - can link in to "Who sank the boat" and "Mr Archimede's Bath"

Bubble blowing with construct-o-straws

Floating chains of links for fishing and counting/adding

Water wheels

Squeezy bottles and ping pong balls

Conkers and spoons - how many can you spoon out in a minute?

Musical dolphins (ELC toy)

Make- a - boat (commercial set - GALT or similar)

whisks and soap flakes

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