The “Salamander Earthworks” natural sandbox provided the children of Coronation Public School with a destination for creative play. Constructed using money raised by the children, this simple natural sandbox was the beginning of a larger initiative to naturalise the entire playground and provide a broader range of play activities.
The precise genesis of sand PLAY and the original rationale for it are not known, but it is a quite natural evolution from the kinds of informal play with earth that children all over the world seem to engage in during early childhood. Sand was a cheap and hygienic solution to early educational theorists’ suggestions of the value of free play with materials. The earliest references to children’s sand play appear in accounts of playgrounds in mid-nineteenth-century Germany. The educational ideas in this part of the world were greatly influenced by the writings of FRIEDRICH FROEBEL, who introduced the concept of the KINDERGARTEN, or children’s garden. His writing stresses the importance of free play and children’s contact with nature, and in his plan of a model kindergarten he encouraged the design of a garden. This offered opportunities for children to contact natural materials, including perhaps sand, but he did not specifically include a sand area in his design. The first known use of sand for play provision is the heaps of sand called sand bergs piled in the public parks of Berlin in 1850. The kindergarten movement in Germany went on to include sandboxes in their design in the latter half of the century, and in 1889 an issue of the newspaper of the Pestalozzi/Froebel children’s houses described how to build a sandbox.
Taken From – “Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society – History of Sand Play”