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The Sandpit - a Kiddie Essential

The sandpit is probably THE number one favourite outdoor toy for toddlers and young children, offering a wealth of different experiences and learning activities. If you only have a small garden area, or a limited budget, invest in a decent one and some sand and you will have a happy child.

There are a number of different types, varying in size, construction material and even height. Here is a brief overview of different types, their pros and cons, and some basic considerations to bear in mind when investing in one:

For info on wooden and DIY options, click here!

sandpit clipart

Basic Considerations Before Buying

To ensure you get the RIGHT one for your child, ask yourself the following questions:

How movable should it be? Is there one specific place in your garden where you want the it located, or do you want to be able to move it around the garden depending on where the shade is? If so, consider a smaller plastic model.

How big does the it need to be? How many children are likely to want to play in it at the same time, and how much garden or terrace space can you make available for it? Generally, the larger the play area, the more fun can be had ... instead of just building a castle, your child can build a whole village or imaginary country, but keep it real - you can always start off with a small plastic one and progress to a larger one later one if it is obvious that your child really enjoys it.

How durable should it be? If you are anticipating having a sandpit for many years to come, eg you have several children who will be using it, then ensure you purchase one which will last and go the distance. A good quality wooden model would be a good option, or build one out of modular raised bed sections - both can eventually be turned into a raised vegetable or flower bed when the children outgrow playing in sand.

What age are your children? Most kids will appreciate a sandpit from toddler age to about 8/9 years, maybe longer. If you are looking for one for a toddler, it is worth investing in one that will see them for a fair number of years. If on the other hand, your child is already 7 or 8, bear in mind that you will get fewer years value for money.

What is a realistic budget for you? There isn't just the cost of the sandpit itself to consider, but also specific sand, toys, and a cover. When working out your budget, include these in your calculations, then get the best quality you can afford on your budget. Don't be tempted to buy a cheapy if you can possibly stretch a bit further, some of the really cheap ones are not well finished and may have sharp edges - quality doesn't have to cost a fortune, check out the Early Learning Centre for some good ideas (in the Sport and Activity category), or consider getting a better quality one second hand instead of a new one.

sandpit clipart

Plastic Sandpits

starfish sandpit

A starfish sandpit available from the Early Learning Centre

The plastic sandpit is the perfect starting point for toddlers and young children. They are usually fairly small, hence easily movable, don't require too much sand to fill, can be easily emptied and filled with water to create a paddling pool instead, and don't take up permanent residence in your garden.

The Early Learning Centre has a range of plastic models suitable for younger children, including boxes at (their) table top height with separate compartments, which look like an interesting idea and could easily be used inside, eg in a conservatory - if you don't mind the mess!

Things to look out for when buying a plastic sandpit, be it new or second hand, are quality of build, check for rough edges, and stability. Some of the interestingly shaped ones look lovely, eg the shell-shaped boxes, but if a young child were to try sitting on the edge, they could tip over and hurt the child. If possible, also check if it is made of frost-resistant plastic, ie whether you can leave it outside over winter or whether you will need to store it inside somewhere.

sandpit clipart

Sandpit covers

A cover is an essential. It keeps cats, dogs and other animals out, and prevents the sand from getting too wet by keeping the rain out. On hot windy days, it also prevents sand from being blown out and about the garden.

The majority, but not all, commercial models include covers, or at least provide the option of ordering a cover at the same time as buying the box itself. Check in the description whether a lid is included - this applies to both plastic and wooden versions.

Failing having a cover provided with the delivery, it may be possible to find a suitable one online which you can order separately. Alternatively, cover smaller boxes with strong plastic sheeting or tarpaulin, weighed down enough around the edges to prevent the wind from blowing it off. Or use some plywood or hardboard just to cover it - this is not the best long-term solution, but will do for a while.

> Wooden and DIY boxes

sandpit clipart


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