Thursday, October 04, 2012

build a backyard sand table

The Little Pea loves to dig in the sand. When we go to the playground, she often spends the whole time sprawled barefoot in the sandbox, happily building and destroying towns, castles and farms.

With a new baby on the way, we decided we needed to make our backyard more fun, since trips to the playground and the museum might slow down a bit this fall. So we built our own sand table. It was really easy and cost us less than $20 total. A retail sand table starts at $30 for a very small & chintzy model, and I've seen them sell for more than $100. I think the Pea especially loves hers because she helped us build it.   

Here's what you'll need:

- An under-the-bed storage box with a lid (about $7 at the store, or you might already have one).
- A wooden crate or small coffee table to mount it on (we had one sitting in the garage).
- Four large, flat screws with washers (about $1.50 from the hardware store).
- An electric drill with a small drill bit (we used a 1/16-inch bit).
- Two 50-lb bags of play sand ($5 each at the hardware store).
- Assorted sand toys (repurposed yogurt containers work great if you don't have beach toys).

Mount the storage box on the crate or table

First I positioned the storage box on the crate just the way I wanted it to go, and then drilled holes for each of the four screws. 

Then I screwed each one in place with a washer in between, which I thought might help the plastic last longer without cracking.

Drill some small drainage holes

I drilled lots of tiny drainage holes all over the bottom of the storage box so that if (when) the Pea dumped water into the sand table, it would have a way to drain out. I wanted the holes to be large enough to let water through, but not so large that sand would leak out. We used a 1/16-inch drill bit. If I had it to do over, I would probably go one size larger.

Fill the play table with sand

This part was fun for all of us! Two big bags of sand were plenty. The storage box was quite full, but that's okay because it wasn't long before sand started migrating all over our yard.

Keep it covered

We were sure to get a box with a tight-fitting lid to keep out the rain. Make sure to cover it up whenever your child is done playing - nothing worse than an unexpected thunderstorm to turn your sand table into a mud pit. If it does get very wet, just leaving the lid off on a couple of sunny days dries it out pretty well.

Have fun!

The Little Pea and her friends spend a lot of time at this table. It's fun to watch how they combine the sand play with other activities in the backyard, like garden digging, restaurant, and "beach" play with the wading pool. I'm looking forward to seeing what else they do with it, with the onset of lovely fall weather and more time outside.


  1. In the UK, the lid is also v. Useful in keeping the neighbours' cats out of the sand box, or your own cats, if you have any! Looks like little pea is having great fun. And congrats on your new arrival.

  2. Congrats on your new baby! I've never seen a sand table before -interesting idea!

  3. Hi there! Do you have personal pages in online social websites?


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