Then I set up the two light boxes with the translucent shallow boxes and sand. I held up one card at a time and encouraged the children to try to copy the design in the sand. I gave feedback, tips, and encouragement as necessary. Michael could copy all of the simple shapes on his own and did pretty well with some tips on the more complex shapes. Ava was able to copy the very simple shapes on her own, the intermediate shapes with some tips, and the complex shapes with a lot of assistance.
This is an excellent activity for developing pre-writing skills. Pre-writing skills develop the fine motor strength and control necessary and the hand-eye coordination for writing without actually holding a writing implement (crayon, pencil, marker, etc.).
Here are the cut out cards and some examples of the children's copying. Michael used the orange sand and Ava used the blue.
Ideas to expand this activity:
- Have the children name the shape (if it is simple) or name the shapes that make up a more complex shape. For example, "This is a square with a plus inside."
- Show the card and ask the child to make a big, medium, or small version.
- Add something to the picture. For example, show the oval and ask, "Can you draw this oval with a triangle on top?" (or underneath, or to the left, or to the right, etc.)
- Subtract something from the picture. For example, "Can you draw this house without the roof?
- Show two cards and ask them to draw both in their sand box at the same time. They will need to learn, through trial and error, how big to make each and how to leave room for the second while making the first.