Friday, October 9

An Indoor Sandbox and The Benefits of Sand Play

After some recent reading (and thinking about an upcoming winter) I really wanted to put together an indoor sandbox. The thought of 50 pounds of sand in my kitchen and two children with scoops and buckets, was, at first a little intimidating. Nonetheless, I felt that with the right set up and a little planning it just might work.


There are many benefits of sand play, the first being the development of the sense of touch through the texture of the sand. Sand play also develops the arm, wrist, and hand muscles, uses grasping and wrist control. It provides for creativity and imagination and is relaxing for the child. While playing with sand, a child also develops eye-hand coordination, experimentation with volume, weight, and measurement.


We have been using our indoor sandbox about twice a week. Each time we use it, my daughters play for up to an hour and they have really enjoyed it. I began by purchasing a plastic tub and lid. I drilled holes through the top, to allow air flow. We use a large blanket under the tub.


I gathered some cups, scoops, tools, sticks, rocks, etc. and keep them in a small tub.



Before we start I set up everything including the clean up area, which consists of a dish of water and 2 cloths next to the blanket. I have my daughters take off their socks so sand doesn't get tracked all over the house. There is one rule- everything stays in the sandbox. I stay with them the entire time.


When they are finished playing, I brush off their feet and clothes and one at a time, they rinse their hands to clean off the sand, dry them and then go to the bathroom to wash them with soap and water.


After they have washed and are in another room playing, I take the sand tools and dip them in the water and dry them off. They are put into the small tub.



I dump the water outside and shake the blanket off outside as well. I also do a quick sweep.



Everything is put away under our kitchen island.

16 comments:

Leptir said...

Thank you for this idea! I like your place for cleaning material after playing with sand.

Gypsy said...

Wow, this is great. I love your step by step instructions for managing it ... although your children are good Montessori examples and don't seem to just pick it up and dump it over themselves!!! Love your posts as always.

Pink & Green Mama said...

Perfect!! WE have sensory tubs with everything BUT sand indoors year round. I may have to add a sand box this winter. I love your clean up directions!! : )

Kindra said...

What a wonderful idea!

Anonymous said...

love your idea- we have been thinking similar but have decided to use rice instead. I'm not big on using food but there are some really nasty chemicals in store bought playground sand (not sure what you are using but you might want to check that out...). Love your ideas though. We've also used oatmeal and will use pinto beans when my youngest is old enough not to stick them in his nose! Thank for all your fantastic ideas- just found your blog!

Amy said...

Just want to add a note about the question of the safety of sand. After much searching on the internet before setting up the sandbox, I found that there is a bit of debate over whether or not sand is safe. Ultimately, sand like the dirt outside, does contain natural carcinogens and most sand sold comes from crushed rock. The only way the carcinogens can enter the body is through the air when the sand dries and becomes dusty, thus breathed into the body. Even with this, some researchers say the only people at risk are those people who work with it for employment (for years). One way to make sure your child is safe would be to have the sand wet when used. We keep a spray bottle with the toys although the sand has yet to dry to become dusty to need it. Another option is to also buy specially made "safe" sand. Of course, always have your children wash with soap and water after playing.

Adriana said...

Wow! I have to admit that this activity scares me to death! My 3 year old would do fine but my 18 month old throws the sand outside. How do you keep your little one from doing that?

Amy said...

My youngest is just about 2 now, so maybe you just need to wait a little longer. (You could always provide it to your oldest while the youngest napped.) I think it works for us because her older sister is a great example. Occasionally sand will fly but it is due to the youngest child's less developed coordination. The advice I read is to just follow through with the rule that it stays in the box and if this rule is disregarded (purposely) then the box is closed and tried again another day. For a child that understands this, it would be effective.

My Child's Diary said...

Thanks Amy for another great idea!
What size is your sandbox?
You mentioned that you use the sandbox twice a week. May I ask how you explain it to your daughters when they want to use it, but the time is not appropriate? I was just thinking that the fact that you keep it under your kitchen island probably makes it too appealing to them, but then you still control their accessibility. I think I would keep it in the closet.
I just wanted to add to your reply to Adriana that although we didn't have a sand box, we did have the beans box since my son was about 18 month old. He did try a few times to throw the beans outside. I always commented that the beans stay in the box, and returned them one by one into the box. I only needed to take the box away from him a few times, every time returned it shortly after it to let him try it again. For me, it is always important to give him this second chance, especially due to his development stage, otherwise it will be much more like a punishment. I believe that the experience with the beans box helped my son a lot in understanding of the concept that everything has its place and should stay there as long as needed. As well as the fact that he could return the beans into the box one by one, on his own, without my help in sweeping it, for example. Today at 25 months it helps him not only in the pouring activities, but in life in general. Every time he sees anything spilt out, he carries to return in to its place. Of course, you need to be very consistent, and to present this activity only when your youngest is not tired or hungry.

Amy said...

Mira- My daughters have occasionally asked about the sandbox at a time that it is not convenient and I just tell them I am sorry we need to ___ and we can "after nap" (or the next time that I can open it). The sandbox is large which I think helps contain the sand. It is about 14" x 41". I can see why you would want to offer the chance again to the child shortly after excusing him for throwing beans-that is a good point and important for a child still learning. I haven't had to excuse anyone from our sandbox. A lot of times when one or both of my children is not using something the appropriate way and has had several redirections, I say: You may leave the table now and come back when you are ready to keep paint on the paper. My daughter often leaves and comes back and is appropriate. Having the child help clean up would also be an important step.

My Child's Diary said...

Thank you, Amy!

Victoria said...

I did this with my son before he was 2 (now 3 1/2). I only did it a few times when it was way too hot to dig outside. We lived in southern CA. I used oatmeal since we had a ton on hand and its cheap, plus I figured it was much easier to clean up than sand. I used a bin that is for storage under the bed so that it wasn't very deep and nice and wide. I never used a blanket underneath since I did it in the kitchen, I just swept after and dumped it back in.
We now live in CO, so I think I may have to make this again for winter, since digging is still his favorite thing to do. My daughter (1 1/2) will most likely love it too, although, I might have trouble with her keeping it in the box, we'll see :)

BTW, Amy, I really love your toddler activities for my daughter, you give me lots of ideas :)

-Victoria

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b said...

Amy that is a wonderful Idea. I am a new grandma and i want to give my grandson all opportunities. My children were brought up in the caribbean so we had no problem to go outdoors for sand play but with my grandson in the winter months i have been wondering what to do for sand play. I love your idea. It is simple, inexpensive and feasible. Thank you.

children and parents said...

Playing sand is fun, I just wonder the benefit psychologically and physically. I have two daughters . they feel very excited when I take them to sand play. They can play for long time even though they look tired and dirty.

fauzi said...

playing sand has much benefit for our children. they can explore many things. benefit of playing sand!