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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Toy Recommendation: Toddler X's Favorite Sand Toys

Super cute and super functional!
Last week, I was chatting with a mom at Portal Park as our kids played in the sand, and she asked me about our bag of sand toys, which both of her boys were really enjoying (the actual bag -- not just the toys themselves). I told her that I actually had a post on the topic on the blog (she was familiar with SV Toddler -- in fact, we met when she recognized Toddler X!), but when I got home and looked, I couldn't find it. I eventually discovered a sand toy section buried deep within the Top 10 Toddler Toys list, but given that we're entering the heart of beach season, I thought it made sense to pull the sand toys section out into its very own post.

So, here you go -- pulled directly from the Top 10 post, my homage to Melissa & Doug Sand Toys. Hope you like them as much as we do!

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Sitting at the playground yesterday, it struck me that I had completely omitted from this list some of our most frequently used, and highly recommended, playthings: the bag of sand toys that sits in our car and travels with us to playgrounds all around the South Bay. These toys get hard use all year and are absolute champions of sand play, either at the playground, in the backyard, or at the beach. I get asked about them by other parents all the time, and kids flock to them at the playground.


For a long time, our sand play stash consisted of a reusable grocery bag filled with a mishmash of cheap plastic shovels from the Target dollar bins, coffee cups I'd found in my car, and occasionally a tupperware if Toddler X was lucky.

Now, don't get me wrong -- these are all excellent playthings, and every toddler should use them from time to time. But when Toddler X's birthday rolled around in February, and we chose to host his party at a park where sand is the primary ground covering, I decided we needed to provide the partygoers with something a bit more substantial to play with. At the same time, Toddler X didn't really need any more toys inside the house, so we decided that a nice set of sand toys would be our big gift.

The following are what we settled on, and I can't recommend them highly enough:

The tote bag is amazing, not only because it is adorable, but because it has an inch or so of wide mesh at the bottom, such that you can load it up with your sand toys (which always seem to contain every grain of sand to be found at the beach, right?), then give it a good shake, and the sand filters right out the bottom. It's an ingenious design, and one that has helped reduce the grains of sand that actually make it into the car. Its short handles are very toddler-friendly, and Toddler X loves to carry his bag of toys from the car to the playground. There are also two small pockets on the outside, into which you can stick sunblock, a hat, whatever. They have this bag in various sea creature designs, but we went with the crab and love it.

The toys themselves are true winners as well. They are all thick and sturdy, cute and fun. The nesting buckets are huge Toddler X favorites, and also favorites of all his buddies (and all the kids who come over to us at the playground after seeing our cool toys). They're easy to transport, easy to make sure you've collected all of them at the end of the day (provided you can count to four), and fun to use for transferring water from a water feature or building sand sculptures (each has a sea creature design at the base). The clicker crab bucket fits nicely around the stacking buckets, and all fit perfectly in the bag. The two shovels are sturdy (no snapping plastic here) and perfect for toddler hands.

Obviously I'm a bit more careful with Toddler X's sand toy stash now than I was when it consisted of empty Starbucks cups as buckets, and a spare spork as a shovel, but we haven't had any problems with them getting lost or taken, and it's been about 8 months now. Just be sure to put your child's name in permanent marker and you're all set -- the bright colors make them easy to spot when you're ready to depart, and since they're different from all the basic yellow plastic shovels that you see at the park, it's not hard to determine what's yours.

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The post above was written almost a year ago, and we're still loving the exact same set of sand toys. If you're looking to invest in something more substantial than the basic plastic toys, or if you're looking for a great birthday gift for a friend (they're relatively inexpensive, and everyone likes sand toys!), I highly recommend these.

Happy sand play!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you choose to shop online for these or any other items, I would greatly appreciate you doing do via these links -- it helps me out, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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