Yesterday, I spent my afternoon working with a little help from Dane to create the start of our sand and water wall. I was first inspired by Jenny over at Let the Children Play who provided ample options for creating waterwalls. I immediately put the waterwall on my long list of things to do.
However, as time passed and I thought about things through our long winter…. I realized that I didn’t just want a water wall. We have a HUGE sandbox, and I’d want our wall to be for both sand and water. (And whatever else we decide to use it for!!!!)
I also found a lot of inspiration from Tom over at Sand and Water Tables. Tom encourages the addition of different options to sensory tables. With a little more thought, it became clear that our huge sandbox is really just a big outdoor sensory table. So, with that in mind, combining the ideas and inspiration, our sand and water wall was created.
We opted to make our wall out of a piece of 4′ x 4′ plywood, the “true outdoor” kind. This way, we could create our wall and it would be able to withstand the elements for a longer period of time. I really like the idea of pegboard, but unless I wanted to special order the plastic version, I knew that it would not last in our outdoor climate and I really wanted to try to stay away from plastic.
So, using a piece of peg board as a guide. I marked the spots on our plywood (every other hole from the traditional peg board) and I drilled the holes to create our own peg board. I also decided to put in a rounded square in the middle of the board. This provided a “window” to invite children to utilize the horizontal in addition to the vertical. It also provided a way for children to utilize both sides of the board. (Initially, I thought about putting this on the fence, but quickly realized how much more potential children would have if they could use all sides.) If you notice, even before we started to add the pieces to it, the children were exploring the “window.”
We are currently using pieces of plastic containers that would have been tossed into the recycle bin. To anchor them to the wall, we are using wing nuts and bolts/screws. The reason I decided to use wing nuts and bolts is because I wanted to have something that was sturdy, yet moveable for the children. I do advocate for the use of tools with children, but I didn’t want moving the items to be a huge production. The use of the wing nuts is still a little bit challenging, but I don’t anticipate that it will take long before all of the children become pros!
Dane and I only painted one side of the wall. We thought it would be fun to let everyone else help with painting the other side. (I do anticipate that our wall will end up with all kinds of different layers of paint as our little friends do love to paint!)
In the first day of exploration, the children used the wall as a prop to place a long piece of guttering on and sent the sand and dinosaurs down a slide.
When they weren’t tall enough to reach, a little bit of teamwork and a tire provided the boost they needed to reach the top! (You’ve gotta love all of those loose parts!)
After filling the
gutter, I mean slide up with sand, they opted to try a few things on the wall…..
For our first set of options, I purposely chose the items that are more translucent. However, after only having a few items ready to go… The children are already thinking and discussing what might also work on the wall.
Now… when Mother Nature decides to really send spring/summer our way, our wall will be great for water exploration too…. However, it doesn’t look like today is the day. I saw snowflakes in the air as we were out exploring……