In Defense of Sand

A photo of two children playing in wet sand.

Photographed by Daniel Lobo (

In defense of children walking and crawling on surfaces that are uneven. In defense of buckets and pails and shovels used to build villages, castles and rivers. In defense of sand mixed with water. In defense of falling on something soft not made of petrol. (Unless your municipality or daycare bought plastic-covered sand; yes, that exists.) In defense of risks that aren’t hazards. In defense of getting dirty. (Though most play sand today is actually a variety that doesn’t stain clothes and skin much. Yes, that too exists. Don’t go believing that play sand is some “natural” or “pure” thing.)

In defense of bringing sand home and getting it in the stroller, Baby’s diaper, Mum’s bra and Dad’s pockets. In defense of getting finger nails dirty. In defense of children’s play and imagination. In defense of putting away our phones and cameras, looking away from our children to dig our toes, our big adult toes, deep in the sand.

In defense of sand while we still have access to it. Play sand is gradually being erased from our cities. It might come back in 20, 30 years, when all of us, not just the free-range parents and child development specialists, realize that playgrounds’ have been rid of that magic open-ended material that children can actually sculpt and transport. (Play structures aren’t open ended. They have specific functions and obey rules, something parents and daycare workers are quick to remind children.)

In defense of sand while our nordic winter is still a few months away and our parks and recreation department still sometimes chooses it to cushion our children’s falls.


3 thoughts on “In Defense of Sand

  1. A good defense! Sand don’t need us, though, like we need sand. Witness those photos of sand reclaiming arid houses, structures.

    • Hey, Jeff! It sure doesn’t need us. And what I learned from one of Ann-Marie’s chapters is that sand is the third most used resource after air and water! What?! But that we are digging further and further into the ocean for “natural” sand.

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