What would an outdoor play space be if it didn’t have a sandbox?
We’ve had our share of sandbox phases throughout the years. When LittleMan was just an infant, not quite old enough to be trusted not to eat a handful of sand, we filled his paddling pool with colored rice and construction vehicles. After that we moved on to a small sensory bin of plain sand. Then a sensory bin of plain sand and water. As he gets older though, he has more of an interest in designing sand castles and digging elaborate tunnels. These activities require just the right sand mix so they don’t crumble apart.
We’ve taken to a newer, dirtier version of a sandbox.
See, sand alone is sort of meh. It doesn’t hold shape. You can’t make a castle out of it. It isn’t particularly great for digging stable holes.
You can correct this issue by adding water to the sand but then you’ve got to constantly balance the water with the sand to make sure it isn’t too soggy nor too dry. And then there’s the icky factor of standing water for any length of time. Plus wet sand weighs more and is harder for little ones to dig in.
Our solution to this problem is simple: mix dirt with sand. Dirt holds shape better than sand. It doesn’t have the same long term icky factor that water does. We don’t have to worry about monitoring the balance. It doesn’t add weight to sand the way water does.
Just a 50/50 mix of dirt and sand to start with and we have sand that will hold shape for sand castles and is perfect for digging in.
For other great sandbox play ideas, check out Happy Hooligan’s sand box ideas for an excellent list of sandbox play inspirations.