The weather has gotten warmer, so it’s time to get into the sandbox.
What if you don’t have room for a traditional sandbox, or want something more flexible for your space? An alternative is to use a large plastic container. Carry the container to a covered porch or garage on a rainy day, or use it inside when the weather is cold.
Another way to make sand play more exciting is to choose colored sand, which is available at big box stores or online and is LOVED by kids.
Sandbox Items Found at the Dollar Store
Here are 10 items to look for on your next trip to the dollar store that can be used in the sandbox:
- Paintbrush: Try smoothing out the sand with the paintbrush, as well as making roads for small cars and trucks. Also, it’s a nice tool to practice writing letters and numbers in the sand.
- Measuring cups: Kids simply like to fill these up and dump them out over and over. Get practice using real measurements by referring to the cups by their name (½ cup, ¼ cup, etc.) and introduce the concept of fractions.
- Imitation gems: The dollar store generally has lots of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Enjoy “hiding” the gems in the sand and then having your children find them.
- Mini dustpan and brush: Brushing sand into the dustpan is great practice for developing motor skills, but it’s also handy for cleaning up sand that ends up outside the “box.”
- Kitchen strainer or serving spoon: This can be used as a sifter in the sandbox and as a tool to find the gems. They are also great for moving sand or just watching the sand fall through the holes.
- Mini watering can: The sand will fall out of the can as it is poured, but it is also great if you choose to add a little water to your sandbox.
- Pie pans: Children can use these to make pretend blueberry pies, mud pies, etc.
- Kitchen spatulas: These are fun for stirring the sand around and around.
- Paint holder: These worked nicely for moving large amounts of sand because of the handle. (You can see a red one pictured in the photo at the top of this post.)
- Cars, trucks, tanks: The dollar store is a great place to get toy vehicles for the sandbox. Keep these in the sandbox for use only in this location. This makes them novel when the sandbox is out and keeps the sand from being relocated in the house.
Now, while your kids are playing, be sure to join them. Here are three questions you can ask your child as they play:
- What are you making?
- Where did you come up with that great idea?
- How can we play together?
There are also lots of free things around your house that work well in the sand, too. Any container recently recycled after being cleaned out, paper towel rolls, plastic silverware, plastic cups, or old plastic containers without lids all can be used for sand play. You can easily and inexpensively round up an afternoon of fun in the sandbox.