You don’t need to visit the beach to have fun with sand and sun! You can find educational uses for sand activities to do at home, as well as some fun STEM opportunities on a sunny day. Take a look at these toys, crafts, and ideas for a little hands-on fun in the sun.

Who knew that sand and sun could be such a great learning experience? Sand play helps to develop fine motor skills while children dig, pour, sift, and scoop. It encourages creative thinking, experimentation, and eye-hand coordination. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills are important for kids because they encompass our everyday lives. Encouraging a love of STEM could lead to careers in related fields, inquisitive minds, and tech-savvy teenagers!

Create a Sand Sensory Table

There’s nothing like a sand sensory table for the ultimate backyard experience! You can add store-bought sand to a simple plastic box for instant sensory play. Include scoopers, cups, spoons, and sifters so kids can experiment with different capacities. Or check out a pre-made sand station like the Crabbie Sand Table from Step 2. It even has a removable shell lid to help keep sand clean and dry. Accessories are included and there’s enough space to hold 25 pounds of sand.
MSRP: $49.99

Make Your Own Colored Sand Art

When no sand can be found, you can “make” your own! All you need to produce this fun “sand” art at home is some table salt and colored chalk. Roll the chalk in the salt to create each color, then add it to clean jars or containers to make magical sand art. Check out the full tutorial here.

Bring the Beach Indoors

Kinetic Sand offers tons of fun for kids of all ages. It’s really more than just pretend sand play, it’s also a way to develop fine motor skills and sensory experience. Kinetic Sand Beach Day Fun from Spin Master enables kids to bring the beach indoors (or to their own backyard), without the mess. Kinetic Sand doesn’t stick to clothing yet has a similar feel to real sand. Kids can sculpt, build, flatten, and mold with a variety of different tools.
MSRP: $19.99


Experiment with Sand

What could be more fun than digging through pretend layers of the earth? With the Discovery Geology Sand Dig from Horizon Group, kids can unearth a variety of stones, including pumice, slate, coal, shale, obsidian, gneiss, marble, gypsum, and granite. An included digging tool helps them cut through layers of sand to unearth their scientific treasures. When they’re finished excavating, they can even play with their moldable sand and create new designs.
MSRP: $14.99

Cuddle Up with the Sun

If you’re looking for a unique way to inspire interest in the sun and our solar system in general, Celestial Buddies lets kids cuddle up with the best of them! Their plush Sun features a fiery furry body and embroidered foot. Kids can use their sunshine buddy to create imaginary stories, inspiring artwork, and fun games (imagine a “pass the Sun” or hot potato game using this celestial buddy).
MSRP: $24.99


Just Add Sun

Introduce kids to eco-friendly energy alternatives and see how solar energy works with Just Add Sun by Griddly Games. Learn how the energy of the sun can be used to heat objects as well as cook food (like s’mores and nachos). Kids can also experiment with sunlight, heat transfer, and reflection. The kit includes a variety of experiments and crafts that you can do in your own backyard, using the power of the sun.
MSRP: $29.00

Build with Solar Power

Harness the power of the sun to move your very own solar cars! Kids can construct five different motorized creations with this fun Solar-Powered Rover kit from Thames and Kosmos, including a solar fan and a solar robot. Learning about solar power helps to develop STEM skills, and encourages kids to experiment with gears, ratios, solar cells, and more. In a technologically advanced world, solar power is a great way to teach kids that electricity isn’t our only power source.
MSRP: $19.95

Other Outoor Fun

It’s fun to learn right in our own backyards and experiment with natural elements. Outdoor toys can be used in so many creative ways. Be sure to check out more sunny day fun with these 6 Educational Uses for Outdoor Toys as well as these choices for weekend family fun. Don’t forget your sunscreen!