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Toddler Talk: Easy Sandbox

The final days of summer are upon us. So we’re making more and more of an effort to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather before the frost sets in and days get a little more chilly (though I am looking forward to worrying about sunscreen less and wearing more layers). We’ve got great parks in our neighborhood, but, as every mom can attest, sometimes it’s just nice to stay at home and not worry about packing up the whole stroller for a jaunt to the playground.

Luckily, we have backyard space that we’re able to make our own. We can’t build our own playground back there (and don’t really want to) but we have brainstormed ways to bring Ramona’s favorite parts of the park into our own backyard. Her favorite part? Digging in the sand! Though a regular-size sandbox was out of the question (we live in the city and are terrified of it becoming a litter box for stray cats) we found a vintage rectangular planter that works terrifically as a mini sandbox. There’s not a ton of maintenance or cost, and there are plenty of ways to use it!

What you need

-repurposed large bin that has sides that are not too tall (under-the-bed storage bins, small wood boxes, even cardboard boxes with the bottoms taped up tight work).

-bag of sand (no more than $4 at your local hardware store)

-play shovels; small figurines for hiding and digging up; cups, bowls, and pans for packing and building

What you do

1. Fill your desired bin with sand.

2. Play!

3. Any spillage can be swept up and reused. (Old sand can also be put in compost, the bottom of flower pots to help with drainage or to fill holes in your yard.)

Ways to use

1. Use simply as a sandbox. Let younger ones explore the different sensory experiences of sand and pouring it in and out of cups and letting it run through their fingers. Many parks use mulch or composite materials as the bedding, so sand might be a new experience for your little one.

2. Hide little figurines in the sand and make a game of having your toddler dig it up with shovels or their hands to try and find them. You can also teach numbers this way if you hide a certain number each time and make sure they are keeping track of how many they have found and still need to find.

3. Build sand castles. You don’t need a proper mold. Bring out cups and bowls and pans from the kitchen and have some water on hand for them to experiment with packing the sand and getting it to form buildings and structures.

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