How to transform the boring sandbox into an amazing beach

sea sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers

As a child I looked forward to spending the holidays at the beach with my cousins.

We used to spend the days digging holes, making sand castles and swimming in the sea. I remember how much I loved going for long walks, with my cousins, at the beach. We spent hours collecting seashells, rocks and looking for crabs.

Now that I have a family of my own, I look forward to taking my little girl to the beach.

I want her to experience the greatness of the ocean. I want to create beautiful memories with her. Memories that all of us can cherish forever.

Sadly, this summer we won’t be able to make it to the beach.

But that doesn’t mean I cannot bring the beach to us. I decided to transform our boring sandbox into a little sea with a tiny beach.

This transformation was so easy to make, it provided LOTS of fun to my little girl and perfect to keep her cool on a very hot day.


To make your own sea small world you will need:

How to?

I started by inviting Tutu to mix some water with blue food coloring. Then we poured it into 3 small food containers and put it in the freezer for a few hours. We also made some ice cubes without food coloring (to turn later into an iceberg).

While Tutu was napping I prepared the beach zone. I simply took some play sand out of our sandbox to make space for the sea zone. I moved the sand to one side to leave space for the sea zone. I distributed glass gems all over the sea zone. Then I distributed seashells all over the sandbox. I left the biggest seashells and a starfish for the beach zone.

When Tutu woke up from her nap we removed the ice from the food containers and the ice-cube tray.We took the ice cubes and crushed them with a blender. Then we pressed together the crushed ice and turned it into an iceberg.

my daughter pouring water to fill the sea zone in our small world

At this point Tutu had fallen into a crisis. She no longer had any patient left and all she wanted was to play! (This is to say that if you want to make this small world you may want to have everything ready before your child wakes up from the nap!).

In a desperate attempt to keep my daughter calm, I asked her to help me filling the sea zone with water. This worked well and while she was busy filling her bucket and water can with water I managed to place the blue ice and the iceberg in the sea zone.

Everything was set but we were still missing our sea  animals so we ran to our playroom and took them from our ocean themed tot trays.


I could see such delightment in Tutu’s face was the small world was complete. She was initially very careful, just playing from outside the sandbox with the sea animals and the shells.

Then she gave a look, asking me if she could go inside, she was very insecure. I guess she was afraid I would say no. A big smile filled her face as she heard me saying she could go and play inside.


She went in, her little feet sinking into the sand, feeling every texture and every piece on the sole of her feet. And she love it, she repeated it and repeated it and repeat it!.

She finally sat and played with this small world, digging her fingers into the sand, then into the cold ice, then into the water and the glass gems. Keeping herself entertained and cool for a VERY long time. To be honest, I also joined the fun!


It was amazing to see how much fun she can have with something so simple. Preparing this small world took me only 20 minutes in total but it brought my daughter such joy, not to mention what a great sensory experience it was.

I don’t know if this year we will manage to go to the real beach but in the meantime, I’m happy to bring the sea to us and create some loving memories at home.


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Note: The activities on this page should be done under parental supervision and discretion should be used to determine if this activity is age appropriate for your child.

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    • says:

      Thank you Vanessa. My daughter loves our homemade beach! She has had so much fun playing with it.

  1. Marie says:

    Such a fun idea! Thank you for stopping by the Learn & Play Link Up. This post is featured on Christian Montessori Network this week!

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