For a number of years Ryan and I thought about, discussed and ultimately rejected the idea of a sandbox. Mostly we just couldn't figure out where to place it in our rather small back yard. Ryan thought it would make a mess and both of us were concerned about the cats (seeing as how cats like sandboxes for activities other than playing).
I kept reading about the benefits of sand play though and, at school, Naiya spends a lot of time in the sand area coming up with really imaginative scenarios and games. Finally I decided to let go of grandiose plans for a hand made sand area and, embracing our space limitations (and cat concerns), we just put out the little covered plastic sandbox (that we used as a baby pool and has been in our garage for years) onto a corner of our cement patio.
When on the first day Naiya played in the thing for FOUR HOURS, I had to wonder why on earth we waited so long. I had put a barn, tractor and some horses in there and placed some buckets and tools to the side in case she had creative plans of her own. Oh my, did she! That little space transformed and entertained like I would never have imagined.
tied a rope to it and pulled Naiya down our snowy street.) This week it also served as a boat...
I can't express enough what a great amendment to our ordinary play the sandbox has been. We do have to keep a close eye on the cats and cover it if we walk away for even a minute, but no other single toy has inspired our little one for so long and in so many ways as this one simple box of gravel.