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It’s safe to say that a sandbox with some good quality non-toxic sand has been one of the best investments we made for our kids!
Sandboxes offer nearly endless potential for play and creativity all on their own. Yet high-quality sandbox toys are a wonderful way to expand that potential even further.
You can’t go wrong with the basics, which is why our personal favorite is the Blue Gingko Silicone Beach Toys set. It includes everything you need for a trip to the sandbox or beach but without the use of regular plastic.
Of course, shovels and pails just scratch the surface of what sandbox toys have to offer. If you’re looking for something even more exciting, you’re sure to find it below!
Best Sandbox Toys 2023
Best Overall — Blue Gingko Silicone Beach Toys
Blue Gingko Silicone Beach Toys
Ditch traditional plastic toys in favor of this durable set of sandbox accessories made of eco-friendly silicone.
Recommended for ages 3+
Every sandbox arsenal needs a bucket, shovel, and other basics. If you don’t already have these necessities on hand, then the Blue Gingko Silicone Beach Toys are much better alternatives to plain plastic ones.
Silicone is generally considered much better for the environment than regular old plastic. It’s also less likely to crack or break when exposed to the elements.
This set includes a bucket, shovel, and four sea creature sand molds. Everything is made of food-grade silicone and comes with a mesh bag for storage or transport.
Best Full-Size Digger — Big Dig Sandbox Digger
Big Dig Sandbox Digger
Take a seat at the helm of your very own sandbox excavator!
Recommended for ages 3+
What could be better than creating a miniature construction zone complete with cranes and dump trucks? Taking a seat at your very own excavator with the Big Dig Sandbox Digger!
These full-size metal sand toys are standard fixtures in many public playgrounds. But investing in an at-home version is a great way to step up beach or backyard playtime.
Big Dig’s Sandbox Digger features a sturdy base that can hold up to 110 pounds and rotates 360 degrees. You can also opt for The Big Dig and Roll for an entirely mobile version.
Best Budget Option — Melissa & Doug Sand Cookie Set
Melissa & Doug Sand Cookie Set
Bring your love of baking to the sandbox with this adorable cookie-making set.
Recommended for ages 3+
The sandbox offers an open-ended play area for all of your child’s most creative ideas. But it doesn’t hurt to invest in something like the Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Sand Cookie Set for those days when pure imagination isn’t enough.
This is the perfect gift for any kid obsessed with baking or cooking! The cookie cutters, rolling pin, and other tools offer just enough structure without impeding on the sheer potential of sandbox play.
In total, this “baking” toy set includes 9 pieces plus a mesh bag. The mesh bag is great for easy carrying, storage, and even cleaning the pieces themselves.
Best Recycled Materials — Green Toys Dump Truck
Green Toys Dump Truck
Haul sand to and from your pint-sized construction site with this colorful dump truck made of 100% recycled plastic.
Recommended for ages 1+
Thankfully, finding diverse toys for kids who love the colors pink and purple is getting much easier. But the Green Toys Dump Truck is still a relatively rare find!
This classic sandbox toy features functional wheels and a tilting bed for realistic play. Unlike other plastic sandbox toys, this dump truck is made entirely of post-consumer recycled materials (and is made in the US).
The construction is easy to clean and, of course, BPA- and phthalate-free. There’s also no need to worry about metal pieces that will rust when exposed to the elements.
Best for Dino Lovers — HABA Toys Dinosaur Sand Glove
HABA Toys Dinosaur Sand Glove
Encourage imaginative, open-ended sandbox play with this dinosaur-inspired digging glove.
Recommended for ages 3+
You can’t go far without running into a child obsessed with dinosaurs. The HABA Toys Dinosaur Sand Glove is a great way to bring a bit of prehistoric pretend to your sandbox setup.
This sand toy doubles as a hand puppet and excavating tool for all kinds of play potential. In fact, its versatility earned this toy a FamilyFun Toy Fair Favorite Award in 2015!
This T. rex-inspired glove will fit most kids ages 3 and up. But younger kids might find that the dinosaur head is a bit heavy for their hands.
Best Construction Vehicle — Tonka Steel Classics Bulldozer
Tonka Steel Classics Bulldozer
No collection of sandbox construction toys is complete without this realistic Tonka bulldozer.
Recommended for ages 3+
The Tonka Steel Classics Bulldozer is another must-have sandbox toy for children who love the world of heavy machinery.
There are countless sandbox-approved vehicles to choose from. But one of the biggest selling points of this bulldozer is that it resembles the real deal!
The sturdy, articulated design helps children discover the mechanics of operating a bulldozer while enjoying open-ended play. This and other Tonka sandbox toys are perfect for kids who want to feel like the foreman of their own construction site.
Best Basic Castle Kit — Sand Pal Sand Builders Kit
Sand Pal Sand Builders Kit
This kid-approved sand construction kit has everything you need to build castles, towers, moats, and more.
Recommended for ages 3+
Sandcastles are hallmarks of time spent at the beach or the playground. And the Sand Pal Sand Builders Kit is sure to take your family’s construction projects up a notch!
The kit includes 7 castle molds, a large shovel, and a mesh bag to store everything. The pieces are all made of durable, BPA-free plastic and the packaging is 100% recyclable.
By the way, you can also use this set to build castles out of mud and snow!
Best Funnel Tower — Melissa & Doug Sand-and-Water Sifting Funnel
Melissa & Doug Sand-and-Water Sifting Funnel
Have fun sifting, tilting, and tipping with this funnel tower compatible with water and sand.
Recommended for ages 2+
To get the most out of sand play’s developmental benefits, it’s important to stock a variety of creative sandbox toys with many different functions. The Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Funnel Fun fills a niche many sandbox toys for toddlers overlook.
While exploring the many ways this funnel set can tip and tilt, kids will also learn basic concepts like measuring and how different materials move under gravity.
This sifting funnel tower works equally well with sand or water. It’s perfect for a backyard sandbox while also being portable enough to take to the beach or pool.
Best Advanced Castle Kit — Create A Castle Sandcastle Kit
Create A Castle Sandcastle Kit
Take your castle-building to the next level with this complete set of detailed sand and snow molds.
Recommended for ages 6+
If your sandbox has been designated as a construction zone, then you can never have too many molds and tools. The Create A Castle Sandcastle Kit is another favorite for kids who love building fantastical castles from scratch.
This award-winning kit comes in several versions, so you can invest in the exact number of molds and tools your family needs.
Each mold is incredibly detailed, and the hinged design makes unveiling your creations incredibly easy. You can feel free to test out your castle-building skills in the snow, too.
This kit requires a better eye for detail than many of its counterparts, making it ideal for future engineers- and architects-in-training!
Best Unique Concept — HABA Toys Spilling Funnel XXL
HABA Toys Spilling Funnel XXL
This unique funnel unlocks new ways to build, doodle, and otherwise get creative in the sandbox.
Recommended for ages 8+
The HABA Toys Spilling Funnel XXL is a unique addition to any sandbox! The multi-compartment funnel mixes sand and water together to create the perfect medium for molding, building, or even doodling.
Children as young as 3 will get a kick out of this toy. However, it’s ideal for children ages 8 and up.
While we love the concept behind this toy, keep in mind that it can take a bit of trial and error to get right. It tends to work best with extra-fine sand, so certain types of play sand will produce better results than others.
How To Choose The Best Sandbox Toys
The good news is that most sandbox toys are appropriate for all ages (assuming that the children are old enough to play in regular sand in the first place).
However, you should still keep an eye on the recommended age ranges when shopping for sand toys. Some toys, especially those with more complex pieces, maybe a bit too challenging or cumbersome for younger users!
Size isn’t everything! The best sandbox for your family could be nearly any size. But size does play a role in which toys are worth your while.
For example, seated cranes and excavators require not just a big area but also a minimum sand depth to function properly. Meanwhile, handheld toys can be used in almost any size of sandbox without issue.
Water: Yes Or No?
Some sand toys rely on water to function. Others just offer the option to add water for a bit of extra fun.
Either way, not everyone wants to introduce water into their backyard sandbox. Keep this in mind when narrowing down the best sandbox toys for your family.
Sand offers so much potential for experimental and creative play. Your sandbox toy collection should reflect this.
Try to invest in a wide variety of toys to keep on hand. While you should definitely stock up on basics — buckets, shovels, etc. — there’s no need for, say, an entire fleet of construction vehicles when there are so many other cool sandbox toys to choose from!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to clean sandbox toys?
You can do a lot with some soap and warm water, including clean dirt and grime from your kids’ sandbox toys.
For smaller toys, brush or spray off any sand particles before placing them in a bucket, tub, or sink. Larger toys can be cleaned outdoors somewhere like a driveway or patio. Wooden sandbox toys should be sprayed or wiped down instead of submerged.
Use a gentle liquid dish soap and a rag or sponge to remove buildup and bacteria. Rinse thoroughly with cold water from a faucet or garden hose.
Let everything dry completely before storing or placing the toys back into the sandbox. A warm, sunny spot outside is ideal.
How do you store sandbox toys?
When it’s time to take a break from the sandbox, whether weather or a busy schedule is to blame, it’s best to store toys separate from the actual sand.
Sandbox toys should be clean and dry before storing.
For short-term storage, you can use anything from a plastic bucket to a mesh bag to keep sandbox toys organized and out of the way. If you need to store things a bit longer — say, through winter — then a tote with a secure lid may be a better option.
What is the recommended age range for sand play?
Most children enjoy sand play from around 12 to 18 months old. And there are several benefits to playing in sand — for example, it’s a great way to develop tactile skills — for children of all ages.
The main question to ask before giving your child access to a sandbox is whether or not they can play in it safely.
Babies, toddlers, and even older children who are playing in sand for the first time should be supervised. The main concerns are that they will ingest the sand or accidentally get it into their eyes.
If you’re not yet confident in your child’s ability to play in a traditional sandbox, consider starting off with a shallow tray instead. You can even swap out the sand for cornmeal for greater peace of mind.
Last update on 2023-09-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API