If you are trying to find ways to keep your toddler entertained and occupied at home, a sandpit or sandbox is bound to become an instant hit with all toddlers. Far more than just keeping your little one occupied, a sandpit will offer dozens of advantages and will help to develop several essential skills! South Africans are blessed with warm and mostly sunny days throughout the year and as such, our children are able to play outdoors in every season.
A well-designed sandpit will not only encourage outdoor play but if the inquisitive child is provided with a useful array of sandpit toys and tools, like buckets, spades, trucks, rakes, cups and odd containers, their imagination and creativity will be sparked and they will spend many happy hours, burying, tunnelling, building and digging in the sand.
How will sandpits help kids develop skills?
- Gross and fine motor skills. Using their muscles to dig, carry, shovel or tunnel in the sand, the child’s gross motor skills are being developed, while the finer actions like sifting, decorating, patting, moulding, etc. are essential for the development of their finer motor skills. These skills will prove to be vital later in life and will assist the child to perform regular, everyday activities such as holding a pen, writing, etc.
- Differentiate between textures. Sifting through the sand and patting the sand into shapes allow kids to feel a number of different textures, from smooth, rough, fine, etc. Learning and feeling different textures are important during early childhood development.
- Immune booster. Spending the day digging in sand may seem like a dirty job and it is. During outside play, kids are exposed to germs and through exposure their bodies are able to build up the necessary antibodies to fight off germs. What’s more with outside play, the exposure to the fresh air and vitamin D (from the sun), the kid’s immune system is given an instant natural boost. Childcare experts are in full agreement that kids who are cooped up all day indoors are at a major disadvantage when compared to children who are encouraged to climb trees, build sandcastles, ride bikes, etc. Kids who have been encouraged to play outdoors from an early age are generally healthy and happier and are often far more developed, mentally and physically.
- Playing happily in a sandpit will also give kids the chance to develop and enhance basic maths concepts. This may sound farfetched but think about what skills are needed to build a sandcastle – a child will learn the basics of measuring, estimating, counting and constructing.
Sandpits – inexpensive and guaranteed to provide hours of playtime fun
DIY dads will have little trouble fashioning a backyard sandpit, and because most of the materials needed are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, sandpit construction will prove to be a quick and easy project. There are also premade sandpits like the colourful clams and these are often the ideal choice, as half of the clam can be filled with sand, while the other half of the clam makes the perfect paddling pool. When not in use, the clam can be shut and the sand will be protected. The sand that is used for the home sandpits is usually available in packed bags at most DIY or building stores and is generally river sand. It is important to keep the sand clean and to change the sand regularly.
Parents who have pet cats (or those who have visiting felines) must ensure that the sandpit is covered at all times, as a cat will be happy to use the readymade sandpit as their outdoor litter tray.
A sandpit or sandbox is far more than just a means to keep an active child busy. Sandpits are safe environment which will provide kids with an outlet to express themselves and use their imaginations and creative abilities to build and construct almost anything. Sandpits are also a great choice for small townhouse gardens, where outdoor space is limited!
If you are trying to find the best way to keep your toddler or little one occupied, a sandpit is highly recommended and for added fun – be sure to include an assortment of sandpit accessories such as:
- A collection of buckets and containers in a variety of shapes and sizes. These can even be yoghurt containers or used ice-cream containers;
- Spades or spoons for scooping. Kids will spend hours sieving the sand – be sure to include an old tea strainer;
- A rake;
- Watering can;
- Plastic pipes or cardboard rolls for tunnels;
- Dump trucks, diggers, etc. These are great for older, more industrious kids;
- Other kitchen utensils which are ideal for a sandpit such as scales, funnels, mashers, flower pots, etc.