Transform your sandbox from ordinary to extra-ordinary with these easy, awesome sandbox ideas. Lots of simple tips and tricks to create backyard sandbox that inspires creative, imaginative play.
We spend a ton of time playing in our backyard play space, and without a doubt, the most popular spot for the kids to play in is our our sandbox and playhouse.
I’ve slowly added to this corner of the yard over the years, making it an inviting, natural place for the children to play.
The most recent undertaking was to add a bunch of inexpensive but engaging features to our sandbox to make it an enchanting and inspiring place for my daycare toddlers and preschoolers to play.
In front of the sandbox, you can’t help but notice our our amazing play logs .
They’ve been an enormous hit with the kids, and I would highly recommend getting your hands on some if you can! They’re a fantastic addition to any outdoor play yard.
Come past the logs though, and step right into the sandbox with me, to check out some simple but stellar play ideas.
With a few basic materials, you can set up some really inviting areas and activities in your sandbox.
Ours has become an almost magical place where imaginations and creativity flourish!
Our sandbox is quite large, and is located directly underneath the playhouse, which is ideal for keeping the hooligans sheltered from the elements. We can play out there quite comfortably on the sunniest of days, and we’ve also spent many rainy mornings, playing in the sand, under the shelter of the playhouse.
Easy and inexpensive sandbox ideas:
All of the ideas you see here have been done on a shoe-string budget. Aside from the lumber and 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 sand-kitchen in the other half. The plank also provides seating in the sandbox, a surface to drive cars and build castles on, and it doubles as an extra work space when things get busy in the kitchen.
I’ve added a few shorter boards which the hooligans like to move around the sandbox, and use as ramps for their cars.
An old bench sits in the kitchen end of the sand box. The shelf underneath makes it the perfect work space for making sand cakes, mud pies, and many other wonderful “homemade sandbox treats”.
At the other end, we have our “sand wall”. The inspiration for the sand wall was our homemade water wall. I made this sand wall by nailing a scrap piece of lattice to the frame of the playhouse and sandbox. Then, I cut the bottoms off of a few plastic bottles and containers, and attached them to the lattice with zip ties, florist wire and large twist ties.
The sand wall provides lots of entertainment and opportunities for learning 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 all of our plastic sand toys and tools with wood, metal, tin and enamel pieces. 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.
A collection of rocks, sticks and play stones also encourage open-ended, imaginative play.
From time to time, I’ll add a new supply of pinecones and a couple of evergreen boughs to add interest to the sandbox. It’s always fun to see how the kids incorporate them into their play scenerios.
Although they’re not “natural”, a few bouquets of artificial flowers, purchased at the dollar store and the 2nd hand store, provide countless opportunities for pretend play.
To make clean-up easy in the sandbox, I keep a plastic, mesh beach bag at one end, and all the cars and trucks get tossed into that at the end of the day. Any loose sand filters down and out of the holes in the bag, and having one place to put all of the vehicles keeps the sandbox organized and clean.
To store the rest of our sandbox toys, I repurposed a couple of metal planters that were destined for the trash, and I attached them to the backside of the sandbox. This is where we keep the buckets, and kitchen utensils. The spaces between the bars of the planter allow sand, water and debris to drain out of the toys at the end of the day.
As you can see, creating a natural play space for children doesn’t need to be costly or complicated. These sandbox ideas are easy to implement with just a few thrift shop purchases and repurposed items.
I hope our tips and tricks help you to take your sandbox up a notch, and turn it into a wonderfully magical space for a child to spend his or her days in.
Want more simple backyard play ideas? Check out:
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.