If you live in Berkeley, then you know the Berkeley institution Habitot. Known for it’s great indoor play area, Habitot is a wonderland for toddlers and preschoolers. Well Habitot teamed with the 50 Fund (the legacy fund of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee) and KaBoom! (a non-profit dedicated to bringing active play to kids everyday lives) to turn a 3,600 square foot parking lot into a giant sandbox. You read that right, a giant sandbox.
SandZone lasted over a week, with a different theme for each day. Families were given free admission to the pop up play area. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our act together until the last day. But bright an early on a Sunday morning, we were at corner of Alcatraz and Adeline, and one of the first families into the SandZone on Sand Castles day.
My son, being the structured, orderly person that he is, read the sign, understood there was a theme, and proceeded to find all the materials he needed to make a sand castle. He found all the specialty buckets and toys that would make different castle like buildings and structures. With the larger buckets, he kept insisting I come over and flip it for him. After a few, I suggested he use the smaller molds that he could flip himself. He proceeded to make a huge complex of buildings with a moat around. However, as more people and kids arrived, it quickly became impossible to stop anyone from stepping through his complex.
Meanwhile, my free spirt daughter just picked up whatever toy she could find to work with. She enjoyed filling the buckets, trying to turn them over, stepping on them, and doing it all again with a different bucket. She dug holes, and made hills. She found a plastic bone and buried it and dug it up. While it drove her brother crazy that she wasn’t “following the rules” she was having a great time playing.
Soon my daughter discovered the giant blue blocks, and quickly lost interest in digging. She set up the blocks in an obstacle course that she went around and around it, entertaining herself to no end. Once my son finally came to the realization that he was not going to be able to keep people from stepping on his creations, he came over to the block area as well. He quickly figured out how to interlink some of the blocks and soon, he built a stage for him and his sister. Yes, my children built there own stage in a sand box. They then used that stage to sing, dance, jump, and shout orders to the other kids about how they should be playing with the blocks (That would be my son. My daughter could care less).
After two hours, it was getting close to lunch time. I let the kids know it was time to go. My son took the news well and broke apart his stage so others could play with the blocks. My daughter however, proceeded to cry all through her last 10 minutes at the sand box, during the walk back to the car, and all through the car ride home to make sure I understood she really really really enjoyed the sand box and did NOT want to leave. Guess I’ll have to look for more giant sand boxes to play in in the near future. Or we could, you know, just go to a beach…