If you're looking for a great way to keep your children occupied safely for hours on end, you should consider getting a sandbox for them to play in. The great thing about sand is that it's relatively inexpensive to set up and there are hundreds of different toys and games kids can play in it, it's easy to maintain, and it's educational as well. There are some important points you need to consider when you set up your sand pit or sandbox, but we'll go over all the best tips and even some sandpit cover ideas as well.
- A Sandbox Is So Versatile That Nearly Every Kid Can Find Something They Like
The cool thing about a sand pit is that no matter what your kid likes to do, it can most likely be adapted to sand. If your boy likes cars, trucks, and road graders he can build roads and run his 4 X 4 on them to his heart's content. If your daughter, on the other hand, likes wild ponies and ranches, she can build one out of Lincoln logs and play for hours with her friends on that alone.
You can sculpt castles, houses, faces, and monsters out of wet sand, even build small ponds with buried bowls. You can make tiny golf courses or excavate giant holes, all depending on what you like to do. There are thousands of toys made for playing in the sand, some are molds to make things and other are shovels, rakes, sifters, and spray bottles, everything has a use in the sandbox.
In addition to all of the old-time toys and games, there are also quite a number of games and activities that people have thought up over the years and now have posted them on the internet. Most of them can be done with a few items you have laying around the house but some will require purchasing some small tools or other common household things that are for other purposes. All you need to do is Google search for sand pit games and you'll be amazed at the hundreds of fun things there are to do in your own backyard sandbox.
The real bottom line when it comes to sand is that with just a few odds and ends, maybe some pretty rocks, shells, and some beach tools, your children will make up their own games and play for hours and hours on end with their own imagination helping them along.
- There Are Some Important Things To Consider During Setup
The first thing you'll want to do is build a good strong box to put the sand in. You can buy four 2" X 8" boards about 6 ft. long and make a nice square box. If you can find some non-toxic pressure treated wood that will last far longer that just regular pine or fir, but don't let that stop you. Regular boards will last up to 4 or 5 years before the dampness makes them start to rot and they're not that expensive to replace compared to all of the hundreds of hours of cheap entertainment they'll provide. You can add a plywood bottom to your box if you desire or just dig a hole a few more inches deep to allow for extra sand and be satisfied. Most kids will learn how deep the sand goes and will avoid digging into the dirt below. If you're worried, you can either put down plywood, lay in some gravel, or put some concrete pavers at the bottom to delineate between the sand and the dirt below.
When choosing your sand, you'll want to get good quality sand that doesn't have a lot of dirt, dust, or silica dust mixed in with it. There has been some concern in the past few years with children breathing in the silica dust while they play in their sandbox all day long. This dust, however, is more prevalent in white sand and only floats around when it's really dry. If you keep your sand covered and wet it down some with a hose prior to play, there won't be any dust at all. You can also rest easy in the fact that millions of kids have been playing in the sand for hundreds, if not thousands, of years with very few real problems. And remember, just wet the sand down and you'll have no dust.
- As Far As Toys To Play With, Start With What You Already Have
Of course, if you have some beach sand toys they're perfect but even if you don't, you already have plenty to get started. Any type of small gardening hand tools are perfect for the sandbox, hand shovels, rakes, and weeders, then head to the kitchen and get some large spoons, plastic cups, cookie cutters, rolling pins, just about anything that's safe to play with will be useful in the sandpit.
Most plastic kids toys are also great in the sandpit even if they're for smaller kids they can be repurposed for use in the sand. Play cups, saucers, plates, buckets, funnels, paintbrushes, even cardboard as well. PVC pipe parts are also great, you can cut them up into short, long, halves, and whole parts and they make perfect molds that can be used to form parts of castles and buildings made from sand. Don't forget water spray bottles because sand needs to be slightly wet to hold its shape while you work with it.
- You'll Need Some Good Sandpit Cover Ideas Too
One hazard of owning a sandbox is all of the cats in the neighborhood will soon find it and start using it on a daily basis. Plus, it's best to keep leaves and other rotting debris out of the sand because it ruins the consistency of the sand and can smell bad too. So here are some easy sandpit cover ideas that you can use to keep the cats and leaves out and your sand clean and healthy to play in.
Probably one of the easiest solutions is to just buy one of those cheap blue tarps of the right size and use those stretchy bungee cords to hold it down. You can mount some small eyelets or even a few large fence staples around the sides for the hooks to hold onto then put that over the sand pit each time you're done playing in it. It has the added advantage of keeping the sand damp underneath so that it's ready to build with every time you take the cover off.
Plywood also makes a nice cover, you can cut it into two pieces so that smaller children will be able to remove them without an adult helping. The best way, and least expensive, is to just cut two pieces that fit perfectly into the box with no room around the edges for cats to get in. Then, mount a couple of small handles like the ones that go on cabinet doors so that you have something to grab onto when you pull the plywood off. Also, since most plywood will fall apart if left in the rain too long, you should paint it on both sides and especially the edges to make it last longer in the weather. One important point to remember is that, compared to the price of a couple of large pizzas that your family could devour in an hour, a sandpit will provide hundreds of hours of quality playtime for the same price.
If you go online and do a search for sandpit cover ideas, you'll find entire pages of great photos of what other people have done. There are teepees that cover the entire box, small homemade cars, boats, and choo choo trains that people have built out of wood and filled with sand. Even giant, old used tires from construction equipment can be made into a sandbox then a piece of plywood thrown over the top to keep it clean.
One of the best ideas for a sandpit with cover is the innovative hinged top that turns into small benches to sit on when opened up. It's truly a work of art and once you see it you'll love it so much you'll want to build one. Then, when closed, the top of the cover turns into a small wooden deck that kids can play on when they're not using the sandbox.
If you know how to sew, you can buy one of those plastic tarps and then sew a small, 2" loop on two ends of the tarp. Then, buy some 1" diameter PVC pipe and slide it into the loops with about 4" of pipe sticking out each end. After that, just put a cap on each end so the pipe won't slip out. The tarp should be large enough so that it completely covers the sandbox and so that the PVC pipes fall over the edges and hold the tarp in place. It's a very cheap, easy project to do and will last for years with little care. The whole cover won't weigh but a few pounds and two small children will be able to remove it and replace it with ease.
- Another Good Idea Is To Provide Shade For The Kids
Depending on where you live and the number of shade trees around your yard, you might want to have some kind of small canopy over the top of the sandbox. Kids will be wanting to play for 4 to 5 hours at a time and won't be paying attention to the amount of sun exposure they're getting. You can buy one of those canopies they use for picnics and just leave it up or build one of your own from PVC pipes and an inexpensive plastic tarp. That way it could be left up permanently until the tarp disintegrates every few years and then be replaced. PVC piping is very cheap and lasts for years in the sun and rain so there's little to worry about there.
If you're looking for some great ideas with photos on how to build your own sandpit with cover, then go online and do a quick search. There you'll find hundreds of ideas but don't waste too much time pondering while your kids are growing up or you'll just finally get done when they're starting college. You can literally buy the boards, nail them together, fill it with sand and have your kids playing in about 2 hours. Then, by the time they're ready for dinner, you'll also be done making the cover as well.