This weekend I learned that the sand pile was actually the very first playground for children in the United States. It was in Boston in 1885, when a pile of sand was poured into a churchyard at the beginning of summer.
Within two years, there were ten additional sand gardens in Boston – becoming for the children the ultimate play experience.
And though times have changed since then – and shiny new playgrounds are numerous, the humble beginnings of the sand pile still ranks high.
And I’ve definitely witnessed that attraction recently with an unobstructed view of a new house construction taking place right across the street from us.
The basement was dug – and left behind were two gigantic 14 feet- high dirt piles. The owner of the site would show up with what I believe were four of his young grandsons – ages perhaps four- nine-years-old – and say no more.
Those boys romped, climbed, dug, jumped and built for hours at a time – and I from my window view devoured every minute.
When the work for now was accomplished and the huge piles were finally distributed around the yard and much carted away, the “yard” was still sand and dirt.
And so every morning – another woman with two different little boys walks over and these boys – drawn like a magnet- explore, jump, pick up stones/sand, march, run, and sat down and dug – until they were told it was time to go – always a disappointment to the boys.
The amazing thing to me is none of these young children had as much as a shovel along with them. It was just them, being one with the dirt/sand – lost in the enchantment of pure adventure.
(And no lie – as I write this right this very moment – a mom with three children walked by. The children spied the pure temptation of the sand calling to them – and were off – but sadly rounded up, somewhat unhappily, to continue on their way.)
What magic! No wonder sand is included in the National Toy Hall of Fame!
Do you have a sand pile in your yard?
That’s all it takes!