the indoor sandbox!

Today was an excellent day, feeling back in sync as a family and loving it!

Austin informed me this morning he was going  to protect me, which gave me the warm fuzzies.  The fact that he was going to protect me from the fantastical ‘monorail’ that, as near as I can figure, lives in our smoke detector at the base of the stairs and ‘chases’ him back up is beside the point.

Today we had lots of cuteness.

Just to keep it real, we also had our daily quota of “No, *I’m* playing with that!” but that’s to be expected when today is the day we put together….


Each fall, a big gust of wind will whip up and suddenly turn our colorful fall trees into colorful fall leaf piles.  On this day, simmering anxiety begins to gnaw in my mind: what on earth are we going to do inside all winter?  I must find something to stave off mayhem!

To this end, our daily repetoire includes smooshing trucks in play-doh, driving cars through finger paints, jumping on the small trampoline in the living room, bean bag stunts off of high places, and ramps.  One such staple of winter sanity is the indoor “sandbox”.

Originally made when Austin was about 18 months, it was filled with some stale cornmeal in a tupperware.  He quickly learned he could play in the bin as long as the cornmeal stayed in or it would be put away for a few minutes to try again later. Dogs help clean up errant sprinkles here and there that inadvertently jump out of the digger bucket on the way to the dumper, and each session is followed with a little hand broom and dust pan to sweep what the dogs miss.

Our “sandbox” has always been filled with edibles rather than real sand: stale cornmeal, ancient coffee grounds, rice, dry beans, and salt have all graced the bin.

This year I’m debating whether to return to cornmeal or coffee grounds or try rice again.  Nothing beats sand for malleability and intrigue with the addition of water, but nothing also beats the corrosive power of sand when ground into anything in the house.  I recommend experimenting!  Coffee grounds show tire tracks best as I recall and smell heavenly.

Today we started practicing “keep the sand IN the BIN” and busted out the new, improved and larger tub for our sandbox this year.  We are practicing with sand in the bin outside to start.  I tried to gather interest in making a little gnome home, but the most interest I could rally was that the Mustang offered the gnome a ride and asked if he’d like to check out his sweet trunk full of sand.

So, a few pointers to consider when you put your own box together:

  • Select a bin with sides tall enough to discourage spills but low enough for little hands to get in.  Ours are about 6″ or so. 
  • Consider what you want to carry.  You can lift a big under-the-bed storage tote full of grain but will it be so awkward you will dread getting it out?  Ours this year is about 18″x24″.    
  • Experiment!  Kids find totally different things to do when the bin has only 2 cups of rice in it vs. when the bottom is covered with cornmeal.  You really don’t need more than 1/2″ in the bottom for content kids.
  • There is more fun too than just driving in sand.  Sprinkle in a handful of beans and use various kitchen gadgets to sift them out.  Bury treasures, or make a gnome home…or try to anyway, or draw road tracks on paper and lay your sandbox over it.  Little snowplows or bulldozers get to “clear the roads” by pushing stuff around, discovering where the road is.
  • Consider where you will play with the box.  This year we will keep it on the table, just because we can.  Other locations that might be suitable are under a coffee table, in the basement or heated garage.

Ours gets plenty of play, being pulled out at least twice a day all winter long.  It is a supervised activity, but well worth it, providing extraordinary tactile and sensory input as well as being a wonderful diversionary tactic when one is needed.

This fall it is Gabe’s turn to discover that diggers exist.

He has been busy doing his homework.


3 responses to “the indoor sandbox!

  1. Great to see you and the kids today, Bee. Sounds like you’re gearing up for the winter! Hope the winds and rains and tornado didn’t come too near your home today! LY, Dad

  2. I think every person on earth has a story of some imagined boogey man who was out to chase them when they were little! I think it’s so sweet that Austin is protecting his mama. There’s nobody like mom — the memories that you’re building will last the kids their entire lifetime. What a fun blog, Bee!

  3. Gabe doing research on diggers — priceless!

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