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Our Little Diggers – Toddler & Preschooler Sensory Activity


We went to the coolest place this morning. Seattle’s Sandbox Sports is primarily for those beach volleyball enthusiasts who need a place to play inside during the drearier months.

Lucky for us parents and caretakers, they started Little Diggers for birth – 6-year-olds. Basically, Little Diggers involves a huge indoor sandbox in a warehouse-like building with high ceilings and a lot of space to run around.


The sand is ‘clean’ and gear, like dump trucks, shovels, and slides, for the kids is provided to us. Plus there are lots of snack and beverage options for kids and parents. This place is wonderful for play and learning. On the way home my son asked me: ‘sand? What is it?’

Technically, by definition, sand is a loose, granular substance that is the result of erosion of rocks. Easy enough to explain, really.


Texture: Sand can feel smooth, rough, and all the textures in between. Today’s sand was smooth and felt lovely to scoop up and fall through our fingers. Some sand, like the sand at our local beach, is bit grainier. A while back I made a texture board with different gradations of sandpaper to exhibit the subtle differences between the textures. So we pulled that out.

A child exploring a DIY texture board

Simple Play

Dig holes, build mountains, make footprints, use fingers to draw pictures, letters, and numbers, and sift sand!


Erosion: is a fun topic to explore. There are many YouTube videos that show erosion and some are geared towards children. You can talk about erosion with your kids and you can give a micro example in your own home.

I love this hands-on activity from Modern Mom:

“A visual demonstration of erosion will help kids understand the process. Tongue depressors will help demonstrate the amount of erosion caused by water.

Measure and mark lines 1 centimeter apart from top to bottom of several tongue depressors.

Color in each section of the tongue depressors with a different color of crayon. Use the same order of colors on every tongue depressor for accurate comparison.

Once outside, let the kids create a big pile of dirt to form a mountain. Place the tongue depressors at random locations on the mountain and around the base. The tongue depressors should all be placed in the dirt so the top halves are showing above the ground.

Give the kids a watering can and encourage them to pour it over the mountain of dirt. Ask them to make observations about the changes in the mountain. The tongue depressors can help them identify the changes based on how much of them are showing.”

Magnifying Glass

Use a magnifying glass to get a close look at the grains of sand and what else might be hidden inside the goodness. Amazon has many great magnifying glasses for children. We love Melissa & Doug’s magnifying glass.


We are going to make a Sandpaper S and work on the sound “sssss”.

Sensory Activity with Sand

We used sand, a gallon sized plastic bag, glue, card stock, and a brush.

Sensory Activity with Sand

I painted an “S” onto the card stock using glue.

Sensory Activity with Sand

We shook the plastic bag with the sand and “S”. My child is only 2.5 so shaking in a bag worked well. If your child has more self-control and/or is older, you can dump the sand onto the card stock and have your child put the glue on himself.

Sensory Activity with Sand

Practical Life

We talk a lot about the purpose of dump trucks, diggers, rollers, loaders, etc. Kids are generally very interested in the ‘toys’ so allowing that interest to lead the conversation works well. I ask a lot of questions like ‘what do you think that loader is doing?’.

If he answers, “loading” or “building”, I ask for more, “what is it loading?” or ‘what is it building?” When we’re out, I point out buildings being constructed, or those structures that have already been built (e.g. bridges, schools, roads, etc).

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