Sandpits form an integral part in touch play. Picture: PxHere

There’s magic in sandpits - and they are vital to kids’ development, writes Marchelle Abrahams.

What better way to get your child outdoors and into the garden than a sandpit? Sandpits also play an integral part in touch play - a vital component of early childhood development, says creative parenting expert Nikki Bush.

She says children are lacking in sensopathic play and it's therefore important to give children an opportunity to experience the world in a real manner through the sense of touch.

Get those spades and gather the kids. Ready. Steady. Dig!

READ: Life is like a box of succulents

What you'll need:

● A spade (if your children are helping you, ensure each "helper" has a spade, too) 

● Shade cloth 

● Washed river or sea sand 

● Large rocks

TREASURE ISLAND: Eight-piece kids sand set, R177.54,

Get started! 

● Outline the shape and size of your sandpit. Have a good look at it before you finalise its shape and location. 

● Dig as deeply as you can, ensuring the entire outlined area is equally dug out. 

● Lie your shade cloth in the hole, pinning it around the edges with rocks. If your cloth is too small, add more pieces, as long as any extra pieces overlap with the others, leaving no gaps. 

● Add sand. 

● Now is the time to neaten it all. Line the sandpit with rocks, pinning any gaps in the cloth in place and ensuring that, for visual purposes too, the sandpit is surrounded by rocks. At this point, there is no need to worry about excess shade cloth showing. Use different sized rocks, ensuring none of them are small enough for children younger than four to move or put into their mouths. 

● The excess shade cloth can be trimmed away using scissors and a new agapanthus or other evergreen varieties can be planted around the sandpit for decorative purposes. 

Supplied by Life is a Garden.

BARE NECESSITIES: 20kg playpen sand, R59.90 at Makro


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare if they find their child has picked up nasty germs from the pre-school sandpit. This is why the type of sand used is very important. To eliminate the chances of this happening, make sure you fill the pit with clean, treated sand.

Also, when not in use, hardware specialist Mica suggests adding a cover to put over the sand to keep it dirt, germ and contamination-free.

If on the off-chance you do happen to have a bug infestation, remove the sand and dispose of it immediately, and refill the pit with new, sanitised sand.’s handy hack for keeping bugs at bay is to sprinkle cinnamon in the sand - this will repel bugs and insects from getting into the perimeter.

Clean the sand regularly by sifting out any plant debris, including fallen pieces of food.

Sandpit cover, R269,

Fun toys

“If your children are older than 5 years, you can buy some pretty crystals, shells, beads and semi-precious gemstones and mix them into the sand,” says Life Is A Garden’s Nikki Fitz-Gerald.

“This will make a fantastic treasure hunt. Children can spend hours hunting for little gems.”

Traditional toys like buckets and spades, dump trucks and sand moulds are also great options for imaginative play.