Updated: May 9, 2015

Kids Sandbox Reviews:

There is something about sand that attracts kids and adults to touch it, feel it, pour water on it, and build things with it. Owning a sandbox is a must have if you have small children since it can provide hours of fun for them in your backyard. When I grew up, we had a homemade sandbox made of wood that was extra large (almost 5 feet wide by 6 feet long). My parents built the sandbox using a few pieces of wood boards and nails. We had 2 benches on the ends and a pit of sand in the middle to drive trucks, build sand castles, or hold miniature battles with our army men. Today the plastic sandboxes have become a fixture at all toy stores and they sell for about $70-$90 (plus the cost of sand which is minimal). Instead of boring squared of shapes, they offer creative designs and figures like ladybugs, castles, boats, and turtles. Kids flock to these new sandboxes because they are fun and offer creative play by adding water or buckets and shovels to the mix. When buying a kids sandbox you will need to consider just a few basic pointers to ensure a quality buy (keep reading below).
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Although the latest childrens sandboxes are not the largest we have ever seen, they do provide a waterproof top made of hard plastic and a solid frame that will hold several bags of sand. Some models even include an umbrella that fixes into the body of the sandbox and provides shade on those hot days. The 2 major brands on the market for kids sandboxes are Little Tikes and Step2. Both manufacturers offer a variety of styles and shapes to their sandboxes and I must admit I have a few products from both of them in my backyard for the kids. After looking online at Toys R Us and reading reviews on Amazon.com and Epinions we decided to go with the Step2 model. In all honesty, we wanted to build a simple sandbox in our yard, but figured that since we live in a wet climate (Portland, Oregon) we would be better off with a heavy-duty plastic sandbox that could withstand damp conditions and the wind and rain we get throughout the year. On some DIY sites, we read about building a sandbox and how easy it was, but most people lived in warm weather climates where water wasn't an issue so that's why we decided to buy one instead of build one. Other things to consider when purchasing a kids sandbox are size, shape, covers, seats, color, and toys (shovels, buckets) that are included with the purchase. Parents are more inclined to buy a childs sandbox if it comes with added sand toys. One other criteria that parents mention quite often is that they wanted something that blended into their landscaping in a natural sense. That is why the Naturally Playful Sandbox from Step2 is one of the best selling sandboxes on Amazon.com. The colors aren't bright red or green (more like a true sand color) which make it aesthetically pleasing in a small yard. The biggest complaint we found amongst owners was that they sandboxes were all too small, parents had a hard time finding larger units in the plastic models. Down below we have tried to provide the latest details on the Little Tikes and Step2 Sandboxes on the market including price and key features. The websites for both companies are at Littletikes.com and Step2.com. You can browse all the most popular kids sandboxes online here.

Top Rated Step2 Sand Boxes:

Step2 is our favorite toy manufacturer with solid, heavy-duty plastic construction of their sandboxes and backyard toys. The Naturally Playful Sandbox ($70) is popular product because the sandstone colors and boulder texture give it a realistic look for any backyard setting. The cover will protect against weather, bugs, and cats. Customer feedback on this model are superior to any other child sandbox we could find. Parents say the sandbox is durable and the lid keeps rain out nicely. The sandbox holds up to 200 lbs of sand and there are 4 corner seats (although 3 kids is plenty). If you want to combine water and sand, consider the Step2 Naturally Playful Sand and Water Activity Center ($80) that offers 2 separate sides - one for water play and the other for sand play. Comes with an 8 piece accessory package that includes bridges, boats, pots, shovels, and an umbrella. Parents really like the umbrella feature to keep kids out of the hot sun on warm days. The only drawback to this design is that the sand will get mixed with the water and vice versa, so plan on dumping the sand more often since it will become moldy if left wet under the cover. For younger kids, we really like the Ladybug Sandbox, Crabbie Sandbox, or Frog Sandbox that Step2 designs. All sell from $35-$70 and provide little kids with lots of summertime fun. Some parents in colder weather climates put the sandbox in their garage for the winter time with a blanket underneath it so the kids could play all year round. See all the Step2 sandboxes here.


Best Little Tikes Sandbox:

Little Tikes sandboxes don't get as good of reviews as the Step2 models in terms of being completely waterproof and durable. Too many parents said that water leaked in and created moldy and wet sand. They also mention that the covers are "flimsy" and not as strong or durable as other brands. One of my neighbors has a Little Tikes Turtle sandbox and he had mentioned that the sand did get awfully wet and water was able to get into the unit even with the cover on. The 4 top sellers for Little Tikes sandboxes are the Construction Sandbox ($130) - the largest of the bunch comes with a working crane and dump bucket so the kids can play "construction" games. The lids turns into an additional roadway where kids can play with trucks and other equipment. The Classic Turtle Sandbox ($40) as mentioned above is a green turtle shaped sandbox with a turtle shell for the top. The Wildnerness Sandbox ($50) looks like a tree stump that blends into your yard. Comes with 3 molded seats, domed lid, and molded paw prints and leaves at the bottom. The Endless Adventures Hidden Treasure Sandbox ($60) comes with 4 molded seats, a map for buried treasure at the bottom, and a lid that resembles the top to a pirates chest. All the Little Tikes sandboxes can be found at stores like Toys R Us, but just keep in mind that if you live in a wet climate, make sure the cover is secured tightly so that no rain water gets in.

Build a Sandbox:

Building a sandbox is fairly easy and the most important thing to consider is where it will be located since once it's positioned in your yard, it will be hard to move around like the plastic (cheaper) ones. Many sandbox plans we saw online were for 8 x 8 frames, but you can always go smaller. A homemade sandbox will most likely not have a true bottom. What experts recommend is that you place a layer of landscape fabric (not plastic) under the sandbox so water can drain out and also so weeds don't grow up into the sandbox from below. Try to get the area where the sandbox will go as flat as possible and then measure off the desired width and length. Some people prefer to build the entire unit and then place it over the cut out area while others work right where the sandbox will go. Be sure to build bench seats at least at both ends and preferably on all 4 sides. You'll want the sides to be a little over a foot deep so that enough sand can be placed inside the sandbox for play. Don't forget about the cover when building a sandbox. If you live in an area where it's wet or if you own a cat, a cover is mandatory or else your sandbox will turn into a litter box. We once left the cover off of ours by mistake one weekend and all the neighborhood cats found the sandbox and ruined the sand (we had to replace all the sand). Lowes has an excellent online guide to building a sandbox or you can get plans at http://www.bobvila.com/BVTV/CBS/Sandbox.html. The Bob Vila site has pictures and step by step instructions on how to do it. Most DIY's say that building a home sandbox is an "intermediate" project at most.