Weekend Rewind — Indoor Sandbox

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend! Here’s a fun post from our archives, and one that I talked about on our debut for The 10! Show. The girls had so much fun with this indoor sandbox, and it’s a great activity even the littlest ones can enjoy!

One of the things Emily misses the most about Spring and Summer is playing outside in her sandbox. I created an indoor version that was a big hit for both of my girls. You might already have an inflatable pool (most likely it is hanging out in the garage for the winter). We brought ours inside and Mark used the air compressor to blow it up quickly….

Instead of sand, we used oatmeal. Lots and LOTS of oatmeal! I love using the oatmeal instead of sand because I did not have to worry about Clara eating it, and it is much easier to clean up. You can find large containers of oatmeal at the dollar store or places like Big Lots. This pool used about $14 worth of oatmeal to fill it up.
The girls played in here for several hours, and we will use the empty containers for future projects. When they were finished we dumped all the play oatmeal into a large plastic bin (to use for more projects) and deflated the pool.
It was great to see them enjoying this so much! Just a few shovels, funnels, and cups kept them very entertained.


  1. Dear Valerie,

    Clara has grown just a little since then, eh?


  2. An Almost Unschooling Mom says

    The kids would love this, but I'm picturing oatmeal tracked all over the house…and I'm not so sure πŸ™‚

  3. Melissa: Mother to 3 Little Sprouts says

    Oh my that's alot of oatmeal!My kids would love that too!

  4. My goodness how Emily and Clara have grown! Oatmeal the multi purpose whole grain.

  5. Jessica Monte says

    First, that looks like so much fun. I bet my babes would love.

    Second, you are so brave! I would be thinking, "Oh my, this is going to make such a mess." But I'm such a clean freak so . . .

    Anyway, great idea, πŸ™‚

  6. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Jessica — The pool did a great job of containing the mess, and I think we also put down a old sheet to catch any that came out. I don't recall them tracking oatmeal all over the house, but it may have helped that Clara wasn't walking yet and Emily did a good job of shaking the oatmeal off before getting out! It really wasn't as messy as it looks!

  7. I've only ever tried this in a plastic bin or on cookie sheets. I bet the girls LOVED playing in the pool.

  8. This is fabulous!! I will have to try it!! My little boy loves to splash in the water and throw stuff, so I bet he would have a ball trying to get everything he could out of the tub!

  9. They look so young, especially Clara.

    Fun idea.

  10. What a fun idea. I've tried the rice in the flat storage tubs, etc., but it makes such a mess for us. Never thought about using a blow-up pool. And only $14 for the oatmeal – good to know!

  11. Catherine Anne says

    Love this idea~

  12. Whoa!! that is one aweseome idea!

  13. Littlemommy says

    Such a great idea!!

  14. Deborah (Teach Preschool) says

    I love that sandbox – how awesome!

    I also shared an award with you. They just keep coming:)Feel free to do with it whatever you wish.

  15. An inflatable pool (with high sides!) sounds like an excellent idea. You have organised this in a way where the mess would be limited and contained. Any mess for such a fun activity would be well worth it for me.

  16. Just Breathe says

    That was an awesome idea. Looks like they had allot of fun.

  17. Hi Valerie! I nominated your blog for an award: http://theactivefamily.blogspot.com/2010/01/and-award-goes-to.html

  18. Being us... says

    This is a great idea, and if I can convince my husband to let me do this it will be great! I just ran across this blog and will be a longtime follower now, you have great ideas and I look forward to seeing more of them! Thanks!

  19. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Deborah — Wow, thank you! You totally made my day! πŸ™‚

    @ Elise — I completely agree! Some messes are worth making, although the pool did a great job of keeping the oatmeal contained.

  20. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Zoo Mommy — Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ How exciting… two awards in one day!

    @ Being us — Welcome! So nice to meet you!! Good luck convincing your hubby. I didn't have to twist Mark's arm too much. πŸ™‚

  21. Gosh that looks like fun! Too bad my little guy is 16 and I don't have an excuse to do this. Maybe in 10 years or so with grandkids is a possibility.

  22. This is genius! My kiddo loves to play in sandboxes, and I HATE sand – it just gets E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E! I think an oatmeal box might be a addition in our home. Thanks so much for the idea.

  23. My daughter's preschool had something like this, but they used dried beans instead of the oatmeal. The kids loved it.

  24. Lori Beverage says

    I love this idea with the oatmeal! It makes so much sense and cost-wise allows you to get "bigger" than the old dishpan of rice that so many of us have used similarly (but on a much smaller scale). Brilliant!

  25. Lenetta @ Nettacow says

    I linked to this fun flashback on my weekly roundup. Love the itsy bitsy Clara, and Emily has grown up so much, too!

    I've been thinking of you and praying for your family. We miss you on the interwebs, but I know you are where you need to be and doing what you need to be doing. Hugs!