Story Inspired Sandbox Learning Activity

This story extension activity is just right for warm weather!

A summer story extension activity for the sandbox!

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. Books and Giggles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

I was SO excited to receive an advance copy of Little Excavator by the late Anna Dewdney, and even more enthusiastic once my kids and I read it. Last year I was so sad when I heard that Dewdney had passed away. Her Llama Llama books are woven in with my precious read-aloud memories with my children. What a lovely parting gift Dewdney has left us with Little Excavator!

The story has all-new characters, lovingly depicted in classic, rhyming Dewdney style. It’s about an excavator who wants to keep up with all the big construction vehicles, except he’s too small. In the end, though, there’s a job that the others are too big to do – but that is just right for the little excavator.

As a teacher, I love the lesson that everyone has a talent. This book is sure to become a classic for teaching children about accepting everyone. I think it’s also useful for an entirely practical lesson: showing kids that different tools are best for different jobs.

Sandbox Learning

After reading the story, we decided to let it inspire us in the sandbox. School just let out here, and we suddenly have long summer days to fill. Our sandbox, however, needed a little cleaning up.

Just like in the story, you need the right tool for the job. We stopped and talked about which one would be best for cleaning out the bits of bark, leaves, and even weeds that had somehow, miraculously, sprouted up under our covered sandbox.

The sieve, shovels, and big dump truck were what we needed. They also just plain enjoyed smoothing the sand out with that tool that looks sort of like an iron.

A summer story extension activity for the sandbox!

The sieve was the critical tool, more effective than shovel alone. The dump truck made the whole thing a game. Soon the sandbox was looking pretty clean, and ready for summertime play.

Ideas for Play

You can extend the story Little Excavator several ways in the sandbox. Here are some more ideas for you —

  • Scatter toy letters of different sizes across the sand. Then provide various sizes of tongs and grabbers to pick them up
  • Bury items of varying sizes to dig out using several size shovels and old spoons
  • Get different size toy cars and make roads for them using small and large shovels
  • Set out several sizes of construction vehicles for imaginative play


A summer story extension activity for the sandbox!


  1. Anna Dewdney is one of my favorite authors! I’m so glad she wrote this book, my boys LOVE construction stuff 🙂

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