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Here is an idea for making colored sand and sand pictures




1, 2, 3, 4  

Title – Make Your Own Colored Sand and Sand Pictures
By – Debbie Haren
Primary Subject – Art
Grade Level – 1-4


  • Ziploc baggies
  • clear glue stick
  • food coloring
  • flat cardboard box
  • brown or white paper (construction paper, cardboard or heavier)
  • sand (white)
  • measuring cup
  • examples of student sand art pictures
  • examples of other sand art


  • Tell the students that they are going to make colored sand and colored sand pictures.
  • Tell them that they will make colored sand by mixing food coloring into regular sand inside of a plastic bag.
  • Talk about the fact that when the children put the food coloring in with the sand, the sand is going to change color, because the sand is going to absorb the food coloring.
  • Explain to the children that the more they shake the bag with the sand and food coloring, the more the color will disperse throughout the sand. Talk about the fact that if you add 3-4 drops, the color is not going to be as bright as it would be if they put 5-6 drops of food coloring in it.
  • In addition, the teacher could discuss the fact that if you drop red and blue drops of food coloring into the bag, you will get purple sand. Also, yellow and blue drops will make green sand.
  • Tell them that the sand will make their pictures more dimensional.
  • Show them an example of a typical child’s sand art picture.
  • Tell them that many sand pictures are of the beach and the sun setting on the waves. They are very beautiful.
  • Encourage the children to think first about what they are going to make and then encourage them to try to follow through with that picture. This just helps with learning to think ahead and make good decisions, instead of having to start over again.
  • When the project is done, you could also tell them that sand is used in other types of types of pictures and decorations ( show them pictures of Native American, Tibetan and Mexican Day of the Dead sand paintings, elaborate sand sculptures and colorful sand bottles ).


  • Each child should be given a baggie and instructed to pour about 1 cup of sand into the bag. ( Suggestion: This might make a more appropriate outside activity .)
  • The child can then pick what color they want their sand to be.
  • The child puts 2-3 drops of their selected food coloring in the baggie. ( Have wet wipes handy for stray drops .)
  • Seal the baggie tight and then let the child shake the baggie until the color is dispersed throughout the sand.
  • After everyone has had a chance to make their color, they can make a picture by sharing everyone’s different colors of sand. All of the colors will be a little different, because of the amount of shaking and the amount of food coloring in the bag. You could also put more drops in some of the baggies, so the class can look at dark colors versus light colors, such as light red and dark red.
  • Now, hand each child a piece of heavy construction paper, white cardboard or any other firm material ( regular paper can not support the heavy sand ).
  • They will now make their picture by generously applying glue stick to all of the areas on their paper where they want a particular color, pouring a little of that colored sand on the area ( while holding their picture over the cardboard box ) and then shaking off the excess back into the baggie ( for the first color at least ) or into the box. ( Suggestion: be sure to practice making a picture with your selected paper, glue sticks and sand before trying it out on the children. You might have to change materials or methodology if your paper or glue is too weak to support the sand.)
  • After everyone has made their pictures, let them dry completely and then hang them up to display.


    Older students could make an outline of a picture with a pencil, then trace over it with the glue stick and finally put the sand on it for a crisp, more concise picture.


  • Talk about the pictures they made. Ask what the pictures are and how well they liked working with sand instead of paint. What was the same? What was different? What did they like most about it? What did they like the least about it? Would they make another picture with sand?
  • Have they ever seen a picture made out of sand anywhere? Did they like it? What was it of?

E-Mail Debbie Haren !

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