Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the (holy-smoke-why-haven't-we-had-one-all-along?) sand box

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.
On our way to school the next day she asked if I would change the contents of the box.  I figured if that's what would inspire her to play outdoors, BY HERSELF for FOUR HOURS (are you sensing my incredulity?) on her own, I could absolutely change it up for a little inspiration.
I think dinosaur day has been my favorite so far.
By request, I've altered the theme of the box each day.  Not every afternoon of play has lasted for four hours, but for an entire week now she has run to that box after school and enjoyed some really innovative play time.
Cooking/baking day got rather elaborate and a little messy.
 Castle/dragon/princess day fell on the weekend and made for a merry morning but was interrupted by family time.
Roads and cars day was very active and was reconstructed into numerous configurations.
(I think that was Ryan's favorite.)
 On train day even the garden gnomes came to play.
We've had so much fun in the sand and have even found some uses for the lid!  (A few winters back Ryan tied a rope to it and pulled Naiya down our snowy street.)  This week it also served as a boat...
...and a teeter-totter.  (In addition to the life jacket perhaps I ought to have given her a helmet?)

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.


  1. What a great idea to change themes in the sandbox! we just 'built' our boys one and they also spend hours in it. So far we haven't had any 'problems' with cats!! but we have a big noisy dog so cats in general give our place a wide birth!

  2. You guys are awesome. Your daughter beautiful. I have always said if I were to regress to childhood at some point I would love to be your kid Dionne.

    blessings to you and the fam.

    Lynn Short

    1. Thanks Lynn. That's one of the most generous compliments I have ever received! Blessings to you and yours as well. Are y'all still in Portland?


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