Sand Play is a playful 'game' that can last about an hour and is aimed at encouraging creative lateral thinking, sensory awareness and memory recall. The 'game' could apply to all people with or without dementia. During Sand Play we can appreciate and use all our five senses; sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste.
Sand Play uses a shallow wooden tray painted blue inside to represent water or sky, filled with sand, measuring approximately 50x70x7cm. Nearby is a collection of small objects with which to play in the sand. The objects include sensory items such as common garden flowers, old historic items, herbs, spices, old fashioned boiled sweets and in the background various sounds, bird song and music playing.
Doing a Sand Play requires no special skill. Playing with the objects in and out the the sand brings out different memories and emotions. Sand Play is a shared activity that integrates play and choice with small hand sized objects. The play involves an impromptu unplanned dialogue with our inner thoughts and memories. It's fun, joyful and self control is relaxed. Sand Play mirrors the eternal child in us all.
The evaluation suggests Sand Play is an enjoyable, relaxing event. Although the output of Sand Play might be abstract it can be interpreted as a garden. Sand Play enables free open discussion as experiences and stories unfold.
Sand Play is educational and a design tool that is expressive, free form and three dimensional. Sand Play can be used in group therapy. Most of all, people Living Well with dementia, carers and support professionals have found Sand Play to be an enjoyable and thought provoking experience.
We welcome you all to come at this workshop at the Doing Dementia Design conference. Get your tickets here.
by Dr Robert G MacDonald RIBA. Bill Halsall Halsall Lloyd Partnership. Co-Authors "Design for Dementia" (2015) Available at Amazon Books Store.