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Sandbox Alternatives

Don't have room for an outside
for a big sandbox
or it is too expensive?

Kids love to dig in a sandbox or dirt. It just seems to be something innate in them. If there is a dirt pile, they are drawn to it. They will use things they find around the yard to make their creations.

There are alternatives to the dirt pile or large sandbox. Here are some of the things I have done in the past with my kids and grandkids:

  • I have used a small hard plastic swimming pool, filled it with sand, and then covered it with a tarp to keep it dry and to keep the cats out of it. Be sure to weight the tarp down on the edges with rocks so it won't blow away.

  • A large old tire such as off of a tractor is just the right size also.

    You don't need to have a bottom. The only disadvantage with the tire is that it tends to hold the water in the curves. Again be sure to cover it up to keep cats from using it as a bathroom. A large piece of plywood works to cover up the tire.

  • You can use a plastic sweater box with a sack of play sand. I used this with my granddaughter when she lived with me. This worked out great. I would just put the lid on it and store it away until the next time.

    Just don't leave it out in the rain and put away or it may mold. I had to throw it out after I let that happen. As long as it was kept dry, my granddaughter loved to play in it for a long time.

    I would take it out into the backyard so there was not sand in the house.

  • For inside sandboxes, I have used styrofoam peanuts in a cardboard box. Just save the peanuts whenever you get a package, and you will soon have enough to let your child play with.

  • Some types of food can also be used for an indoor "sandbox."

    Beans, corn meal, rice, or other hard food work well. Be sure to keep them in a contained area such as a box - either a free cardboard box or plastic box with a lid.

    Do NOT eat
    the food after the children play in it. Just keep it for play.

Free items that you can use for play in the sand boxes:
  • Twigs
  • Plastic fork and spoon
  • Sticks from ice cream bars
  • Drinking Straw
  • Large tops off spray bottles, detergent bottles, or other large food containers
  • Containers such as cottage cheese comes in make good buckets
  • Containers from fast food

See what you can find around your house that you would normally throw out.

Add toy cars or other toys that you think might be appropriate.


"You're Never Too Old to Play"

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You probably have some great ideas too!
Feel free to

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