One of the things I regret about living in an apartment, especially one with no balcony, is that we cannot have things like a wading pool or a sandbox. Previously I wrote about how to turn a wading pool into a pillow pool (see post here), but I was stymied by how to have a sandbox in the home without getting sand all over the place. What we settled for was the neighborhood indoor play area that includes a huge sand room, but this was hardly convenient or cheap.
Fortunately, if you wait long enough in Beijing, everything imaginable seems to come about. Last week I stumbled upon Kinetic Sand and I was instantly mesmerized. I probably played with it for ten minutes before it dawned on me that it was the answer to my indoor sandbox idea. Kinetic Sand acts like normal sand with one key difference, the individual grains are attracted to the other grains of sand. The result is that if you spill some of the sand, you can form a clump in your hand and use that to pick up the errant bits of sand. If you press the sand into a mold, it holds the shape. Stick your finger into the shape, and it begins to fall apart into a fluffy pile of sand. It is almost like having damp and dry sand simultaneously.
Now I won’t deny that a 30cm box of sand is not equivalent to a backyard sandbox or the neighborhood play zone, but on a high pollution or rainy day, it is great to have something that the kids can sink their hands into and not have sand end up all through the house. It’s also fun to put on the table and let guests play with it while sipping an espresso and discussing a great film or piece of literature. Hey, I’ll get to enjoy those things again eventually, but at least for now, I’ve got the sand.
Photos by Christopher Lay