Backyard series: Sandbox Ideas. Tips for creating a natural play space in your back yard.
I recently wrote about the PLAY LOGS that I added to the back corner of our yard, and today I’m sharing the second post in my Backyard Series: our backyard sandbox.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked on creating a natural play space in our backyard, for my daycare children to spend their outdoor time in.
It’s not terribly fancy, but I’ve added a few things that have transformed it from a big box of sand to more of a “play centre” that provides hours and hours of open-ended, creative and imaginative play.
I’ve done everything on a shoe-string budget, so aside from building the structure and filling it with sand, the cost to “furnish” the sandbox has been very minimal.
Seating and a work space:
A plank placed across the width of the sandbox serves as a divider; we have cars and diggers in one half and a kitchen in the other half. The plank also provides a place to sit, a surface to drive cars and build castles on, and it doubles as an extra work space when things get busy in the kitchen.
At the other end, we have our “sand wall”. I nailed a piece of scrap lattice to the frame of the playhouse/sandbox, and cut the bottoms off of a few recyclables, and attached them to the lattice with zip ties, florist wire and large twist ties.
Similar to our water wall, this lots of learning and entertainment as the hooligans pour sand into the highest containers, and watch it filter down through the containers below.
Replace plastic with the “real thing”:
When it comes to sandbox toys, I’m in the process of replacing plastic toools and toys with ones made of metal, tin and enamel ware. I pick this stuff up when I’m second-hand shopping. Wooden spoons, metal spatulas and pots and pans are far more durable and eye-pleasing than plastic, and kids prefer the “real thing” over plastic any day. This hand-held egg beater is a favourite.
To store the rest of our sandbox toys, I rescued a couple of metal planters that were destined for the trash, and I attached them to the backside of the sandbox. That’s where we keep the buckets, and kitchen utensils.
The mesh bag and the planters allow sand and rain to run through, so the toys always stay reasonably clean and dry.
As you can see, creating a natural play space for children doesn’t need to be costly or complicated. A few simple thrift shop and up-cycled additions are all you need to take your sandbox up a notch, and turn it into a magical space for a child to spend his or her days in.
Click here to see the first post in our backyard series:
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