How a Sandbox Turned Into a Rockbox


Our son discovered the joy of sand while visiting Maui last month and living in Southern California we’ve had an opportunity to take him to the beach quite a few times and we can already tell he’s going to love spending hours at the beach.

Even though we are close to the beach we won’t always have the time to get down there so we are planning to build a sandbox in the backyard for him.

After reading the Sandbox Chronicles from Young House Love we are seriously contemplating changing our plans from using sand to switching to pea gravel.


John and Sherry point out that after dumping the play sand that was made for kids to use they saw a warning on all the bags that stated: This product contains small amounts of crystalline silica, a common mineral found in natural sands and stones. Excessive inhalation of respirable silica dust may cause cancer and lung disease. Avoid breathing dust. Wear approved respirator in dusty area.


They did some more research and WebMD even recommends some play sand alternatives, one of which is pea gravel.


After a quick washdown of the gravel they introduced the new “rockbox” to their daughter who didn’t skip a beat and dived right into playing with the rocks just as she would with the sand.

We want to thank John and Sherry for sharing this important part of their sandbox turned rockbox building process and they’ve convinced us to go with pea gravel when we start building our playbox.

Do you know what type of sand your kids are playing in?

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  • Mercedes
    12 Jun ’12 at 5:22 am

    I saw this on YHL and wondered how long this warning has been on the bags of sand.  I’m surprised that something that could potentially be that harmful is marketed for use in children’s sand boxes!  (and I wonder how many parents have actually seen the warning)

    Love that they decided to go with the pea gravel as an alternative! 

  • Built by Kids
    12 Jun ’12 at 10:26 am

    It’s crazy to us how a product like this makes it through the safety vetting process. Maybe there are loopholes since it’s not considered a toy? 

  • Mark
    24 Oct ’12 at 8:50 am

    Give me a break. It’s freakin’ sand. Playing in a sandbox is no more dangerous than playing with sand on a beach. Play sand companies just put that warning on their bags to cover their butts in our overly litigious country. As long ad you don’t stick your kid’s head in a bag of really dry sand and make him breathe it, I wouldn’t worry about it.