Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Sandbox

We had a sandbox for just a few summers growing up. It was one of the green plastic turtle shaped sandboxes that we ultimately got rid of, I think because it drove my mom crazy. The sand got everywhere and it was hard to keep full of clean sand.

My boys have grown up digging in our yard. They would spend all day digging in the dirt along the edge of the forest, moving rocks and logs, climbing through the weeds. Who needed a sandbox!

Our new home has a wood framed sandbox in the backyard with a roof overhead. I hung some wind chimes there to make the space more sensory. And next spring I fully intend to grow topsy turvey tomatoes and peppers alongside the sandbox. During our move, the boys entertained themselves playing in that sandbox while we unpacked boxes and arranged furniture. I think the sandbox was what saved us from too many moving transition problems.

We've worked hard to establish rules to the sandbox: no throwing sand, toys back in the sandbox when you're done playing, wash off before you come into the house, etc. Otherwise, the sandbox is an entirely creative space. As long as everyone agrees, almost anything goes.

We've come up with some creative ways to play in the sandbox that have helped to maintain the magic of the space.
  1. Just add water: the boys haul buckets of water over to the sandbox from the hose, essentially making a mud pit. It's great for sand castles and cleaning off afterward. The sandbox is admittedly off limits for a few days after until it dries.
  2. Treasure hunt or dinosaur dig: before the boys go out to play, I go out to hide a few plastic gems or dinosaurs in the sand for them to unearth. In addition to shovels, they loved using paint brushes to dust off their dino finds.
  3. Sandbox imprints: one boy makes an imprint in the sand, then the other boys have to identify what toy or tool made the imprint. When Mom gets involved, it gets educational. I scratch a letter or sight word into the sand to be identified.
  4. Pan for gold: paint rocks in metallic gold then bury them in the sand. Kids can find the gold by sifting piles of sand through a sieve.
  5. Make a sand timer: fill a plastic bottle with sand halfway. Tape a similarly sized and shaped plastic bottle onto the mouth of the first to make an egg timer. Have the kids find out how many tasks they can complete before all the sand drains through the timer.
  6. Make a volcano: make a mountain of sand with an indentation in the top. Fill your volcano with baking soda. Slowly add vinegar and watch the reaction occur.
  7. Make a river: fold several sheets of tin foil into long u-shapes. Fit the foil together to make an open tube. Dig a trench in the sandbox and lower the foil in. Fill the foil with water then float tiny boats in your tiny river.
  8. Paint the sandbox: fill spray bottles with a liquid chalk paint, like the one we used to paint our fence. Paint pictures or write messages in the sand.
What fun games do your kids enjoy playing in the sandbox?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, you listed some of our favorite activities! My husband was going to make a sandbox out of wood when our neighbors gave us theirs. It has served us well. Thank you for linking up to The Sunday Showcase.