Tuesday 29 January 2013


Mucking about in the pit.
When I started writing my blog we'd just got rid of our sandpit, hence the post about mud, but I don't want to dismiss the marvel that is sand. The boys had lots of fun in it over the years and I've no doubt that when the weather warms up they'll want it back in the garden. In fact, I'm not sure when you grow out of enjoying the stuff. Back when I was teaching I brought a tub full of sand into my class of 9-11 year olds because we'd had an interesting discussion in science about whether sand was a solid or a liquid- "well, you can pour it and it does take the shape of what you pour it into if it's dry, so maybe it's a liquid." The children very quickly ceased being interested in the conundrum, because they just wanted to play with the sand! That's the great thing about sand, it invites totally open-ended play at any age. Kids can get really creative in their ideas about what to do with it, and they're also practising lots of motor skills and often improving communication and social skills at the same time.

A storage box or an unused baby bath makes a good sandpit.
We did love our sandpit, which was just a few planks nailed together to form a barrier, but you don't need anything nearly as big if you're pushed for space. When the boys were babies we just had a storage tub of the stuff. They could make sandcastles and drive toys around in it, and there was just about room for them both to sit in it! The main trouble was that the sand didn't stay in it very long. I know you can buy play sand. I'm not sure what the claim is, I'm guessing it's been specially cleaned or something and is safe to eat- tho in my experience they only try that once; but you pay an awful lot for a small quantity, so you might well be inclined to nag if the kids spread it all round the garden or start adding water, stones, leaves etc which they invariably will.
Digging holes in the sand bag.
Collecting sand to top up the box.
 We were lucky enough to have a massive bag of builder's sand (because my husband was building a utility room) which was infinitely cheaper. It didn't seem to cause the children any problems, tho it did stain their clothes a bit when wet. In fact the boys used to just climb into the sack and play with it- you could dig a really deep hole when it was full! Zac also liked using his little wheel barrow to transport the sand from the big sack to his sand box. Since it was cheap and plentiful, I could let them experiment with it without minding too much if it disappeared or got mucky.

Making a sandfall.
Where's my toes?
The difference between wet sand and dry sand is pretty dramatic and totally changes what you can do with it. When the sand was dry Danny liked pouring it from one container to another, running it between his fingers, and flinging it (when no-one was watching!) Zac liked being buried in it, or burying toys in it and challenging us to find them.

That feels all gooey!
Take your clothes off first!
When it was very wet they both liked taking their shoes off and squelching about in it.They loved the feel of it oozing between their toes and liked seeing their footprints and watching them collapse in. They also used to run the hose through the sand pit and watch how the rivers formed, then make little dams and lakes to change the flow.

Drawing with a stick.
Squashing the castle.
It's most versatile when it's a bit damp. Zac actually did quite a lot of experimenting with adding water to dry sand to find the perfect consistency for construction.
When it's damp you can draw in it (it's a fun place to practise writing your name!) dig it, rake it, smooth it out nice and flat and of course, build with it. We did have a couple of proper buckets, but also a large collection of tubs, such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plant pots etc to make different sized and shaped "castles". Zac discovered you could make a tower by using the biggest tub to make the first sandcastle, then using a slightly smaller one to turn one out on top, then a smaller still one so that it got higher and higher. Then you can embellish your creation with a leaf flag, pebble windows etc, and finally you can enjoy destroying it- if your pesty little brother hasn't got there first!
The best sandpit in the world!

Check out this link for a million good reasons to let them play in the sand:


  1. What a great post - we haven't done a lot of sand play yet, other than at the beach, so it was really interesting to read about how much your boys enjoyed it and all the different ways they played with it. It might be time to sort out a sandpit! The wee girl still isn't keen on 'mess' - hates having sticky hands etc. so I'd like to try and get her a bit more involved in some textural/sensory play too... Popping over from Country Kids x

    1. Thank you Sara. I think getting covered in wet sand does take a bit of getting used to! x

  2. Just like mud, sand has a 101 way to have fun with. As you point out it's ageless, we all like playing with sand young and old alike. It's a great way for children to use their creative imaginations and explore sensory play whilst having fun. Thanks for sharing all your sand fun pictures with Country Kids.

    1. Thank you! If we were close to the beach like you that would definitely be our sandpit! x

  3. Sand is such a fantastic material to play with, so versatile and encourage for children to explore and have fun with. It looks like your boys had a lot of fun.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids