A sandpit is not only great fun for your child but it also provides significant development opportunities. Digging, lifting, carrying, shovelling, raking and tunnelling all help develop your child’s gross motor skills – while drawing, moulding, pouring, sifting and patting help develop fine motor skills.
When playing with other children in the sand, children also learn to communicate, describe and share, and they often practice role play, helping them to make sense of the real world. Basic maths and science concepts such as estimating, experimenting, measuring, constructing and comparing are all explored. Sandpits provide endless hours of fun for children of all ages, and help your child to learn as they play.
Before you buy a sandpit, it’s a good idea to consider the following factors to ensure you get something that’s perfect for your child’s needs.
When your child is small, it can be tempting to buy a small sandpit to match their size. However, it’s likely they’ll grow out of this quite quickly and you’ll find yourself needing to splash out again before much longer. Buying the biggest sandpit that your budget will allow accommodates their needs both now and in the future, and therefore makes a better investment.
Another reason to choose a larger sandpit is if you have several children, as this will allow them to play together. This gives your child the best opportunity for social, emotional and language development and gives you the best value for money. The Plum Store-it Square Sandpit for example is a generous 96cm by 1.02m, the perfect size for two children to play together comfortably. It features two jelly bean seats and a handy storage box for you to tuck all of your children’s favourite sand toys away when they are not in use.
Sandpits typically are plastic or wooden and both types of material have their pros and cons. Plastic sandpits are durable, maintenance free and easy to clean. They come in bright colours and often feature fun shapes that are appealing to your child. They are, however, usually a lot smaller than wooden sandpits, so only really suitable for younger children or areas where there is limited space.
Wooden sandpits tend to be larger in size and can therefore accommodate your child from a very young age right through to the upper age range for sand play (if there is one!). They cost a little more but offer the best in long term value. They are often more traditional in design with less bright fun shapes although many parents find their natural rustic appearance more aesthetically pleasing in the garden. Wooden sandpits sometimes require a little maintenance, such as treatment with a wood preservative from time to time.
Some parents want a sandpit that they can bring indoors when the weather is poor which offers even better overall value. For this purpose, a small sand table or a small plastic sandpit is more suitable. If you have no intention of ever bringing your sandpit indoors, then size and weight isn’t a consideration and this means you have a lot more choice.
With or without water
Many sandpits include some element of water play which offers your child even more development value. Water play encourages hand-eye coordination, helps to further develop your child’s muscles and teaches them various scientific principles such as whether an object will float or sink. To incorporate water play, some sandpits have a lid that can be used as a paddling pool. Others feature a water compartment, although inevitably your child will mix the water with the sand as this is great fun!
Some wooden sandpits are not suitable for use with water so this is something to check for when making your choice. If you like the look of a wooden sandpit but want a water compartment, the Plum Surfside Sand and Water Picnic Table might be a great choice for you. This features two compartments – one for water and one for sand, with benches either side to allow 2 to 4 children to play together. When not in use, the lid can be closed and it transforms into a lovely picnic table.
Aside from bringing water into the play experience, some sandpits are even more versatile, offering you a range of uses for maximum value. The Plum premium wooden activity sandpit table for example has a compartment for the sand and two additional compartments to store your child’s outdoor toys. The table features benches either side that allow around six children to sit and play together, making it a great choice for encouraging your child to socialise and share. When not being used as a sandpit, it functions as a regular table for drawing, activities and picnics in the garden.
Another great use for your sandpit is as a fun ball pool. Many of the Plum range of sandpits convert well into ball pools making them perfect for versatile play. Ball pools are one of the most therapeutic types of play you can offer your child with visual, auditory and tactile stimuli to aid their development. Larger sandpits work best for this and if space isn’t too much of an issue, the Plum Giant Octagonal Sandpit is a fantastic choice. Its shape and huge 177cm by 177cm dimensions mean that around four children can play happily together with plenty of room.
Take a look at our full range of sand and water play toys.