Sand & Water Play under the new EYFS Education Inspection Framework

05 November 2019


We were really interested to read Penny Tassoni’s article in Nursery World about the ways in which nurseries can ensure their sand and water provision meets the requirements of the new Education Inspection Framework. If you want to
read the full article you can do so. With the new EIF having come into play (pardon the pun)  in September the article asks practitioners whether or not their sand and water provision is sufficiently challenging and providing children with varied learning opportunities.


Sand & Water play has always been one of our most popular areas for playground and outdoor space development. We thought we’d share the headline points raised in the Nursery World article, along with some of our own favourite products and tips.


First, why is Sand & Water play important?


The Nursery World article explains that sand and water: 


...stimulate the nerve endings on hands and so provide constant sensory feedback, which for most children is pleasurable. This stimulation seems to increase arousal in the brain and so aids concentration, which is why these materials have such potential to support learning.


The article goes on to explain how Sand & Water play is excellent for supporting development, in particular over:

  • Personal, social and emotional development

  • Physical development

  • Language development

  • Literacy

  • Mathematics

  • Understanding the world

  • Expressive Arts and Design


So, how should you be providing Sand & Water play under the new EIF?


As you might expect, the section of the article we found particularly useful was the part about how the ways of providing Sand & Water play, under the new EIF. The article, in our opinion, nails it:


While water and sand trays have their place, they are just one way in which children can experience these materials. Every variation as to how they are provided has the potential to influence a child’s play, thus encouraging them to develop new skills and ways of thinking.

In terms of the new Ofsted inspection framework, thinking about how you provide for sand and water is linked to both Intention and Implementation under the new judgement, ‘Quality of education’. The ideal is to have a range of sand and water opportunities. 


Here are some of our suggestions for getting this right


  1. Getting started - A good place to start is with a versatile, practical play basin or sandpit. We offer a wide range of options designed to work with any space and play area design. Our Large Sandpit is a more traditional choice, offering more opportunity for use through the year with its shelter, but we also offer a range of play basins that include tables, for versatility and opportunity. We particularly love our combined Sand & Water Play Basins with Table Top Cover. Those wanting a more natural, flexible sand pit and platform combination might want to consider our Sliding Lid Sandpit.


  1. Providing a mixture of resources - The article goes on to, quite rightly, recommend that practitioners employ a range of other equipment to create a more versatile and engaging learning and play experience. These might include buckets and spades, pots or dishes, but also our Material Movement Kit, Wooden ChutesFree Standing Bucket and Rail or Free Standing Scales


  1. Creating a narrative - For older children there is a benefit in creating a story and narrative behind play, to help them explore even further, branching off into subjects included at primary school. Ways of doing this might be as simple as including Sand & Water play in storytime or role play. However, products such as the Poddely Sand & Water Set, our Fossils or Shapes Infills, or even our Water Play Station with Gullies and Two Table Tops can help to stimulate developing minds. 



The article concludes with advice on measuring and reporting against the new EIF. We can’t recommend this piece highly enough. If you want to read the full article you can do so here


To discuss Sand & Water play at your setting, you can contact us here… we’d love to talk to you about the hundreds of ways you can use it for learning and fun! 



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