We don’t have a “real” built-in-the-ground sandbox in my outdoor play environment so I try to provide different opportunities for outdoor sand play in whatever way I can.

My grandson always enjoys the simple exploration and play that one-inch sandbox play invites.

Now before I continue on, please note that I am not suggesting that one-inch sandbox play is a good substitute for a large sandbox. The kinds of playful interactions, collaboration, communication, and imagination that take place in a large sandbox cannot be replaced by a one-inch sandbox. And as an FYI, we have a large area of nothing but dirt right now (due to some new landscaping going on) to simulate the kinds of play that happen in a sandbox even though this is still somewhat different.

Getting Set Up

One-inch sandbox play is low maintenance and can be set up in a jiffy when you’re looking for something fun for your child to do.  I simply pour a little play sand out of the bag onto a tray and set it up outdoors where ever my grandson would like it to go.

My grandson adds a variety of loose parts to his one-inch sandbox like cars or rocks or other items he enjoys.

He experiments with the sand like rubbing his hands through the sand, sprinkling sand in the air.

And leaving a footprint in the sand. I think because the tray of sand is such a small space, the kind of play that it invites seems to focus more on the little things you can do with sand rather than the larger types of play.

My Observations

As I have observed my grandson playing with the sand on a tray, I have been thinking of also introducing the idea to my preschool class this year as a way to take sand tray writing, printing, and play outdoors too. I think my students would enjoy this experience as an additional type of sand play experience this year.

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