While your idea of the best sandbox might be a beach in Maui, most of us can’t drop everything and fly across the ocean every time our toes want to wiggle in the sand.
But the good news is there are all kinds and sizes of sandboxes available today. From a cute little crab looking sandbox on bright yellow legs up to big family-sized sandbox that might require a dump truck load of sand.
But before you pour the first grain of sand into your best sandbox, there are some things you need to know. Sandboxes are good, but can also be not good. However, with the proper knowledge and responsible sandbox maintenance, you can have the best sandbox, and that will be a good thing.
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Children playing in the sand can be a good thing, but there are concerns parents need to be aware of, but we’ll get into that in a minute. As long as precautions are taken, playing in the sand is very beneficial.
Have you ever taken the time to sit back and watch children playing at the beach? It’s incredible how they can entertain themselves digging, searching, exploring, and discovering.
Playing in the sand stretches the imagination, invites participation, and allows children to make and test hypotheses. It also provides a potentially soothing sensory experience and is an excellent way for children to learn physical, cognitive, and social skills.
Big words for saying that playing in the sand is more than a good thing.
Why play in the sand?
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Because there isn’t a right or wrong way, sand play is open-ended. The child invents the story as they explore and discover.
According to “constructivist theory” (Piaget, 1945), children have a natural curiosity to understand their world. They learn by exploring and interacting with materials, in this instance, sand.
Children learn how the world works through gradual and repetitive experiments and exposures. One lesson builds upon another and knowledge and comprehension evolves and grows.
Having a sandbox always available for a child to play, allows them to explore and become familiar with sand and all its possibilities. Then that knowledge passes on to other materials and situations.
Playing in the sand also promotes physical development. In fact, large muscles develop skills as they dig and scoop. Plus, eye-hand coordination and small muscle control both improve as they learn to play with toys in the sand.
Social skills also develop when children play with others in the sand. Children may engage in dramatic play as they cook, or build, or dig. As they take on roles during this play, they learn empathy and perspective.
Throw some measuring cups and spoons in the mix, and now they’re learning math skills. How about a funnel, a pendulum, or some magnets for some science lessons?
Give them a colander, some PVC pipes, a plastic bottle with some holes in it. Sit back and watch how their imaginations lead them to all kinds of learning experiences.
Children have a natural affinity for playing in the sand. And that’s an excellent thing.
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What puts the bad in a sandbox is lack of maintenance, the type of sand, and the actual material of the sandbox. All of those issues you can deal with or avoid.
Every sandbox on our best sandbox list is safe for children. There are no creosote railroad tie sandboxes or sandboxes made with any other chemically treated wood.
If you are considering building a sandbox, be aware that chemically treated wood could be harmful to your child. Also, wood sandboxes bring the possibility of splinters. So do your homework before building a sandbox.
Or save yourself some time and pick a sandbox from our best sandbox list.
To keep your sandbox the best sandbox, you need to keep the sand clean. The first and most obvious step in keeping the sandbox clean is keeping the sandbox covered when not in use.
Neighborhood cats and other critters will find that sandbox a very desirable litter box. Do I even have to mention how children love putting everything in their mouths? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Put the cover on the sandbox.
Another concern is the sand getting wet. Wet sand can harbor bacteria and mold. So if the sand in your best sandbox gets wet, let the sun dry it out before you cover it for the night, if at all possible.
If children in diapers play in your best sandbox, pay close attention to make sure there are no diaper leakages. And the same goes for young children who have just recently been potty trained. You will want to remove and discard any sand accidentally contaminated.
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And here’s something of interest. Cinnamon is a natural ant, bug, and pest repellent that’s safe to use around children. Sprinkle an abundant amount of cinnamon in the sandbox and mix it thoroughly. Repeat often throughout the summer.
You will also want to rake or churn the sand in the sandbox weekly to make sure you keep the sand fresh. It will also help you find any items you need to remove, like leaves or broken toys.
And, as hard as it may be, rule number one has to be no food or drinks in the sandbox. Dropped crumbs invite unwanted guests like ants, bugs, bacteria, etc. Be safe: no food or beverages in your best sandbox.
The first noted concern about sand in sandboxes was in 1986 when they discovered that play sand contained tremolite. Tremolite is a fibrous substance found in some crushed limestone and marble.
The concern was that long-term exposure to tremolite could be similar to exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, although people petitioned their concerns to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), they denied prohibiting the sale of play sand containing tremolite.
So the responsibility falls upon you to make sure the sand your child plays in is as safe as possible. It is recommended to buy only natural river or beach sand and to avoid sand made of crushed limestone, marble, or crystalline silica (quartz) — or any other dusty sand products.
When in doubt, send a sample to a laboratory to determine whether the sand contains tremolite or crystalline silica. You can obtain information from the EPA Regional and State Asbestos Coordinators.
How We Picked the Best Sandbox
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This best sandbox list is an independent review of commercial sandboxes available in today’s marketplace. To narrow our choices, we searched the internet for opinions of teachers and therapists as well as customer reviews and opinions.
We have no business or financial ties to any of the manufacturers on our list.
The purpose of this research is to give you sufficient factual, unbiased information so that you can make a confident, informed, and easier decision when purchasing the best sandbox for your backyard.
The Sand for the Little Ones
These five sandboxes made our best sandbox list for toddlers. A few of them are tables that allow children to stand or sit while they play in the sand.
Each of these best sandboxes for toddlers is ample enough for two or more toddlers, and even adults, to join in the play.
1. Step2 Naturally Playful Sandbox II
- Sandstone color and boulder texture look realistic
- Cover protects against weather and pets
- Cornerstones provide seating
Step2’s Naturally Playful Sandbox II is for toddlers and preschoolers. While children are having fun playing in the sand, they will also be developing fine motor skills as they dig and construct.
It’s also big enough for multiple children to play while they practice sharing and taking turns. To assist in the fresh-air learning fun, Step2 includes seven sand tools with this sandbox.
Step2 has designed this sandbox to be unobtrusive and to blend in with traditional landscapes and residential outdoor areas.
The sandbox has a bottom, and it also has a lid to protect the sand from weather, pets, and other unwanted creatures.
There is some assembly required, but Step2 says it assembles in minutes and you will only need a screwdriver. Step2 makes both the sandbox and lid with high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
This sandbox, made in the USA, holds up to 200 pounds of sand. It measures 16 inches deep by 50.38 inches long by 31.25 inches wide and weighs 26.5 pounds.
Amazon customers rate this sandbox 4.2 out of 5.0 stars. A respectable 68 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out 5.0 stars.
2. Step2 Crabbie Sand Table
- Removable shell lids helps keep sand clean and dry
- Sand tables features the iconic Step2 "Crabbie" styling
- Includes 4-piece accessory set for sand play
Step2’s Crabbie Sand Table is designed for toddlers 18 months and older. It’s the right choice when outdoor space is limited.
While not a box that children can climb into, this small adorable crab table is large enough for several children to gather around and have fun building castles in the sand.
Step2 says their friendly crab is all grown up and now has legs, with a removable shell lid that helps keep sand clean and dry.
There is some minimal assembly required, and the instructions say you will only need to supply a Phillips-head screwdriver. However, many reviewers said there were no pre-drilled holes so you may also need a drill.
This made in the USA HDPE sand table holds up to 25 pounds of sand. The crab table measures 22 inches high by 24.38 inches wide by 24.25 inches deep and weighs 10 pounds.
Amazon customers rated this sand table 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. A favorable 77 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
3. Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table
- Cover can be used separately or together for added play.
- Easy to Assemble and Carry Play Table: Suitable for indoor and outdoor use. You can carry it wherever you want and...
- Portable Size: 20.47"L x 3.54"W x 12.6"H ( Assembly ). 16.14"L x 12.6"W x 9.84"H ( Disassembly ). Weight only 4.33 lbs.
Step2’s Naturally Playful Sand Table is larger than the Crabbie Sand Table and is designed for children two years and older. While this table is larger than Crabbie Sand, this raised sandbox is another excellent choice for limited play areas.
The design of this red and tan sand table will blend with most landscapes and living areas and is large enough to accommodate several children playing at the same time.
It has a lid with elastic tie-downs to protect the sand from weather, pets, and other critters. Step2 includes two shovels, two claw rakes, and a bucket. Plus the lid has molded-in roadways so children can play on it whether it’s on or off the sandbox.
You will need to assemble this sand table, but assembly is easy and requires no tools.
This table made in the USA, HDPE table holds up to 40 pounds of sand. This sand table measures 16.38 inches high by 26 inches wide by 36 inches deep and weighs 17 pounds.
Amazon customers rated this sand table 4.4 out of 5.0 stars. A noteworthy 69 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
4. Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox
- Overall: 8.5" D x 29.25" W x 45" L; Overall Product Weight: 16lbs
- Included colorful lid protects sand from weather and pets
- Design and modern styling blends in with traditional landscapes in residential outdoor living areas
Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox is the iconic sandbox that in 1979 reinvented outdoor sandboxes. Parents that played in this sandbox as a child are now buying the same sandbox for their children.
Little Tikes made this Turtle Sandbox for children between one and six years. While it has two built-in seats, this sandbox is an excellent toy for promoting creative and social play for even more children.
The molded seats on the outside of the sandbox do not take away from the sandbox play area. They also included molded details on the bottom of the sandbox to encourage digging and exploring.
The Turtle Sandbox arrives fully assembled. But Little Tikes wants you to know that the turtle’s shell lid is a darker green than its body.
This sandbox, made in the USA, holds up to 150 pounds of sand. It measures 38.75 inches long by 43.25 inches wide by 12 inches high and weighs 11.2 pounds.
Amazon customers rated this nostalgic sandbox 4.6 out of 5.0 stars. An impressive 83 percent of reviews rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
5. Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox
- Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox For kids ages 3 years and up
- Excavator really works to pick up sand and load the trucks
- Molded in ramps and roadways in the sand area Lid doubles as a truck ramp Holds 100 pounds of sand (not included)
The Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox is designed for children three years and older. The construction theme of this sandbox offers hours of active play.
It has a crane excavator that can scoop, lift, and dump sand — the lid doubles as a ramp and roadway. Toys included are a dump truck, rake, shovel, sand sifter, sand cup, and two characters.
The molded plastic lid protects the sand from pets, weather, and unwanted critters. Some assembly is required, but Little Tikes says the only tool you will need is a Phillips-head screwdriver.
This sandbox, made in the USA, holds 100 pounds of sand. It measures 28.5 inches long by 51 inches wide and 25 inches high and weighs 13 pounds.
Amazon customers rated this sandbox 4.2 out of 5.0 stars. A favorable 70 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
The Sand for the Entire Family
How do you deal with the need to wiggle your toes in the sand, or when you have an urge to build sandcastles, but can’t get to the beach? You lather on the sunscreen and play in the backyard sandbox.
No, you’re never too old to play in the sand. And yes, there are sandboxes large enough for the entire family.
But before you satisfy that need and urge, make sure you take some towels outside with you. And have the hose at the ready, because you’re never too old to be yelled at for traipsing sand into the house.
6. Frame It All Composite Sandbox
- Limited lifetime Warranty (registration required)/ 5-year warranty (No registration required)
- Composite boards are made from 38% HDPE Plastic and 62% certified Sustainably sourced wood Fibers
- One inch Series composite kits are made from 1in. Thick, rounded profile boards.
Frame It All’s Composite Sandbox is a nice sized family sandbox. And it’s large enough for several of the neighborhood kids to join in the fun.
Frame It All says their patented tool-free snap-lock brackets slide onto each end of the board and fasten securely with snap-lock buttons.
They make their boards and brackets from 62 percent certified sustainably-sourced wood fibers and 38 percent food-grade HDPE recycled plastic. These durable composite boards withstand mowers and string trimmers.
They are easy to maintain, their wood-like appearance will blend in with your landscape, and they are durable enough to look great for years. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty (registration required) or a five-year warranty (no registration required).
The kit includes eight one-inch sienna straight composite raised garden bed boards, eight one-inch brown snap-lock increased garden bed stacking brackets, and one bottom liner.
The boards and brackets assemble quickly, and the only tool you will need is a hammer. This sandbox holds 13.5 cubic feet of sand, measures 48 inches wide by 48 inches deep by 12 inches high, and weighs 35 pounds.
Only one Amazon customer reviewed this sandbox, and they gave it a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 stars. However, the customer rating from several other retailers averaged 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. A favorable 60 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
7. Sandlock Sandboxes CSG-60120
- Commercial grade solid plastic with UV stabilizers
- Plastic panel separates sand from your yard
- Heavy-duty vinyl cover with CoverLock system
SandLock Sandboxes CSG-60120, with cover, is the perfect size for a family or all of the neighborhood kids. While this sandbox requires some work assembling and filling up, the rewards are worth the effort.
SandLock says you can quickly assemble, and disassemble, their patented interlocking design in minutes. And that their commercial-grade, recyclable solid plastic (HDPE) with UV stabilizers, is durable and backed by a one-year warranty.
This sandbox kit comes with 4 removable corner seats and six 10 inches by 59 inches interlocking panels with couplers. Also included is a heavy-duty erosion fabric barrier designed to keep plants and insects out while porous enough to let water out.
On top of that, you get a CoverLock vented cover that has shock cords sewn into the corners and sides that attach to notches on the sandbox. That makes the cover easy to put on and take off while staying snug in extreme weather year-round.
SandLock Sandboxes recommends placing an exercise ball in the middle of the sandbox under the cover to keep rain from pooling on top. Also, the ball will keep the airflow vents at the most efficient angle.
This family-sized sandbox holds up to 1870 pounds of sand and measures 59 inches wide by 118 inches long by 10 inches high. Shipping weight of this sandbox is 65 pounds.
Amazon customer rated this giant sandbox 4.3 out of 5.0 stars. A remarkable 80 percent rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
The Sand for the Adults
So you’re looking for some sand time, but you don’t want it between your toes, and you have no desire to smell like coconut.
You’re more in need of a mental or spiritual sand connection. Something zenlike. Well, take a big deep breath. Breathe in the good air, exhale the bad air. We found the best sandbox for your desk — just what you need.
8. BE Good Company — A Day at the Beach
- Zen garden desktop beach
- Features fun in sun accessories
- Comes in a hardwood sandbox
BE Good Company’s A Day at the Beach offers up some mental time at the beach. So, close your office door, put the phone on hold, take a deep breath, and rake some sand.
This hardwood sandbox includes pearl white sand, one sand pail, one grooming rake, one digging shovel, mini sea shells, one starfish, one beach chair, one sun umbrella with stand, one sandcastle, and a few moments of imaginary bliss.
All those inclusions fit inside this 9.75-inch by 7.75-inch mini getaway. It does come with a lid so you can keep your mini get-away private.
Amazon customers rated this desktop sandbox 4.7 out of 5.0 stars. A remarkable 87 percent rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
9. BE Good Company — Sand Trap Golf
- Great desk accessory and conversation starter
- Miniature hardwood sand box
- Comes with ultra-fine pearl white sand
BE Good Company’s Sand Trap Golf is the mental timeout for all you golfers. We still recommend closing your office door, putting the phone on hold, taking that deep breath, and raking the sand or sinking the ball.
This sand trap won’t give you the stress of the real thing, but it will still challenge your fine motor skills. When you start getting frustrated, step away from the club. Then go ahead, put it down, and pick up the rake.
This hardwood sandbox includes pearl white sand, one golf club putter, one flag, a putting green, and two mini-golf balls. It also contains one grooming rake, two zen-like stones, and a few minutes in a sandtrap that you will enjoy.
All that fun fits in a 9.75-inch by 7.75-inch trip to the course without the traffic or waiting your turn.
Amazon customers rated this sand trap 4.7 out of 5.0 stars. An impressive 80 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
10. Toysmith Deluxe Zen Garden
- The Deluxe Sand Garden is a version of the traditional Japanese meditative garden done in miniature, suitable for home...
- The garden is contained in a handsome 9-inch by 9-inch rosewood frame, perfect for desk or coffee table.
- The sand garden set includes a long-handled rake, a bamboo rake and a broom to create meditative patterns in the sand.
You don’t want to go to the beach, and you don’t golf, ok how about some time with the Toysmith Deluxe Zen Garden? This miniature Japanese meditative garden will calm your nerves and spirit.
We still recommend closing the door and all that. Then take a few meditative minutes to makes some serene patterns in the sand.
This handsome rosewood sandbox includes white purified sand, a long-handled rake, a bamboo rake, broom, two Asian ceramic swans, an assortment of polished rocks, and a 64-page booklet of meditations. Exhale and feel the peace.
All that serenity comes in a beautiful nine-inch by nine-inch rosewood sandbox attractive enough to be a welcomed addition to your desk.
Amazon customers rated this zen sandbox 4.4 out of 5.0 stars. A notable 72 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.
Can You Feel the Sand?
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Well, did you pick your best sandbox from our best sandbox list of 10? I don’t have any little children, but I’m giving thought to one or two of those sandboxes. My toes like to wiggle in the sand, and since I’m the one who would sweep up any sand traipsed into the house, I think no one will yell at me.
Remember one of the most important things is to keep your sandbox covered and your sand dry.
Here’s an afterthought — when your children or grandchildren outgrow the sandbox, turn it into a memory garden. Plant some shallow root flowers, vegetables, or herbs. How cute would that Crabbie Sand Table be filled with chives, parsley, tarragon, oregano, and thyme?
And that Turtle Sandbox is perfect for salad planting, all kinds of lettuce, some spinach, radishes, and even some strawberries. How many people are smiling from happy memories as they harvest from the garden?
Bring on the sand, the fun, the learning, and the memories.
Let us know in the comments below which best sandbox is going to find a place in your back yard.
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