The Sandbox is one experience for elementary children you will not want to miss! This interactive experience for kids kept my girls thoroughly engaged for our entire visit. To be honest, they could have happily stayed much longer. The museum is divided into themed rooms where children can fully interact in a variety of ways.
The staff were friendly and welcoming as we entered, asking that we stay together as a family and make sure the kids pick up after themselves. I was pleased to see the effort which was put into encouraging this to be a family time, not just a chance for parents to have a break while the kids played. Let me tell you, we all had fun!
Each picture is linked to more information about that exhibit. I hope you enjoy a peak into our experience at The Sandbox!
All three girls enjoyed playing in a giant sand bowl in the Loggerhead Sandcastle room. The sand was what is known as moon sand or cloud dough. I have seen how to make this online several places, but I never imagined it could be so much fun! Since this is the first room we entered it took some time to move the girls forward to the next one.
In the room called Builders of Tomorrow the girls tried out their skills at carpentry and construction. There is a simple pulley system as well as other kid-sized tools and activities which completely fascinated Grace.
The Adventure was probably my personal favorite. The ocean captivated my imagination as a child and I would spend hours playing mermaids, imagining ocean voyages, and romanticizing a life at sea. I would have loved to get a better picture of this area, but my girls were all over this amazing ship! I couldn't keep them in any one place long enough to capture their fun! One really cool feature here is the webcam. They called both sets of grandparents and waved hello from miles away!
Onward we moved to Track The T-Rex. The girls didn't spend as much time here, but they are more into pretend play rather than active play at this point. This was a neat experience for them to try rock climbing in a safe environment. Beth seemed to like this the best. She even posed multiple times on the wall for me as I tried to find the right setting on my camera! The kids can climb across from one wall to the next and try to reach the T-Rex at the end.
By far the winning location for my girls was the cafe. Grace sold food to Beth, who in turn supplied the food to Rose, the chef, who cooked a fabulous meal for Mommy and Daddy on a date! We spent the most time here and this was the most difficult area to pull them away from. We had fun being on a date and Rose took our picture.
There was a really great economics lesson in here that I didn't even have to teach! Grace told Beth how much something was, but since Beth said she didn't have very much money she had to ask Rose what they needed most at the restaurant. Grace also kept her shelves well stocked and Rose kept her kitchen neat and orderly. Watching them do all these things on their own really made me realize just how grown up they are becoming!
Just beside the cafe is an area set up to be a bank called the SCTB Bank. Rose demonstrated her fabulous math and money skills by giving money in return for a check. She loved the challenge!
Other exhibits downstairs include An International Bazaar (kids can pretend to fly an airplane), Charlie's Perfect Playplace (perfect for toddlers), and Rhythm and Hues (an artists dream room!). You are encouraged to let your child explore the areas he/she wishes and since these didn't capture their interest we moved on upstairs.
What an upstairs it is! I believe you could visit the Learner's Loft multiple times and experience something new each time. Some of the cool stuff in this area are a model train, a puppet theater (which is being projected onto a large tv in real-time so the kids can see what they are performing), a veterinarian clinic, another art center, a gigantic light-bright, a light table, a reading nook, an interactive train table, more books, puzzles, and games than you can imagine! The girls enjoyed this area immensely. They each made an art project to take home with them.
The best part about this experience for me was that it has inspired me to create some new learning adventures for the girls. Here is a list of what I hope to do over the next few weeks based on what I saw my girls interacting with.
1. Laminate several over-sized checks to help learn about adding money
2. Create some moon sand/cloud dough
3. Make their art supplies more accessible
4. Build a rock climbing wall...okay...so this one won't be happening, but wouldn't it be cool if we could?
As I was getting excited about our visit and began searching, I came across some reviews for this museum. Most of the reviews were extremely positive, but a few negative ones caught my eye. I wanted to address them because our experience was very different.
The first complaint was that there were too many rules. I felt the two guidelines we were given were more than reasonable. I really like the Collective Wisdom listed at the bottom of this page. I wish more parents would follow this all the time! The second complaint I read was that it was not clean. Again, this was not our experience at all. Yes, the building is older. Yes, the toys and activities are well loved. However, it was extremely clean, neat, and well-ordered. I even observed some of the staff cleaning the areas which weren't being used.
The last two complaints were about the name, a museum and charging adults admission. I feel both are rather petty complaints to be honest. It is not a typical museum with exhibits kids cannot touch...I'm glad! My children experienced, played, and learned for 2 hours. It is truly interactive and very kid-friendly. As far as admission, I felt the price was very reasonable ($7.00 per person) for an afternoon of fun play for the whole family.
Here are my ratings on a 10 point scale...
Family Friendly: 10
Kids Engagement: 10
Likelihood to return: 10 (Although we don't live very close!)
We received admission for our family to The Sandbox in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received.