My friend once had a dog, who knew a very peculiar command: “Get the miner! Every time the word “miner would appear anywhere in the conversation, the dog would start digging on the spot, searching for a mysterious miner, lurking somewhere deep under the surface off the earth, mining its own business… and, probably, some hidden treasures. I think my kids got secretly trained by that dog: I don’t even need to tell them to start searching for some weird miner -: as soon as they have to stop moving forward for some reason, they get on all fours and start in the downward direction: digging. Like silly little puppies, they dig inside the earth, on a sidewalk, in the flowerbeds, in a mulch. But if there is some sand anywhere in the picture… they are in heaven. Needless to say, they are totally lost for the society for a long while. All three: from the toddler to a ten year old. Both on the beach and at the sandbox. Over the years I’ve learned all five of their favorite sand pursuits.
What’s on a menu?
Imagine a toy penguin invited a Little People doll for a date. Not sure if it supposed to be a boy or a girl – let’s call this poor Little People person gender-neutral. Ok, it sounds soooo weird, that I’ll cut to the chase: get some pots, pans – can be toy ones, but real are even better, little plates, lots of spoons (disposable work very nicely), plastic or disposable cups. Fill the flour sifter or just a strainer with some sand. Fill the little pouring bucket with water. Gather some grass, seaweed, rocks, shells – your ingredients. Now it is time to mix the ingredients with sand and water in the pots, pans, bowls and lay them out on little plates for your little toy date. Or for mommy. Chef’s specials: the Mussel Shells on a bed of seaweed sprinkled with some sand-seasoning, The Stone Soup, Dandelion Macaroni with sand-cheese, Fresh sushi out of sand and leaves, Sand-pressed Tiramisu with chocolaty-earth-mouse. Which one is your favorite?
Final special perk: this is a rare occasion, when your little chef will enjoy washing the dishes and the utensils after the feast as much as the meal preparation.
The construction site
Construction cars, little matchbox cars, toy shovels (and real ones too), buckets and various sand-stamping shapes take the centerstage here. A few wooden boards really add some interest. Shells, seaweed and other decorations provide plenty of creativity outlet for the artistic souls (if your’s is the only one on that list, skip the decor – it is not an interior design project and this time kids set the house rules).
Get digging. Road building projects, bridge construction, sand-skyscrapers and entire sand fortification systems emerge. Add some water to the sand to make the constructions more durable. For the tiny little while of their existence: kids don’t care about the result, it is about the journey. Smashing and stomping their new creations is as much fun as building them..
No sand is half as much fun as the sand that has water added into it. Digging the moats and water reservoirs, designing, the elaborate water passages, rerouting water in a variety of directions… all your kids need are some buckets, a few little toy shovels. Water bottles add the excitement – they can spray the water in their newly constructed water-systems and newly built water reservoirs. Get ready for them to skip jumping in the waves in favor of a self-build sandy puddles.
Mining for treasures.
I am fascinated with rocks. While it may sound even more strange than a date between a penguin and Little People doll of unknown gender, rocks provide tons of exciting learning material and entertainment wherever we are (there are always rocks, almost wherever we are! – see some activities in Geology ROCK-n-Learn for kids. Best rocks & minerals play activities.). There are quite a number of things my kids love to do with the rocks, and sand is perfect for quite a few of them.
Burying the feet
Or hands. Usually it is the feet. Don’t you remember this game from your own childhood? One player’s feet are being buried in a sand, piles and piles of sand generously dumped on top. The other one is slowly digging the feet out, carefully making trenches in the sand along the place where they should be. The sand is slowly flowing away, exposing the feet. The game continues, until the player who is digging the feet back out accidentally touches the skin off the feet instead of the sand.