Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sand Art for Small People

We picked up some sand art kits from the $1 bins at the front of Target a few weeks ago, and they've been a big hit ... except that it takes me longer to peel off all the stickers than it does for Lazy Kid to pile obscene quantities of sand on the resulting sticky patches. And she gets frustrated when the color doesn't go in the tiny little spots she's targeting ... which is why I came up with my own version of sand art that's easier for small kids to handle.

Safety warning: This project isn't for kids who still put stuff in their mouths all the time, unless you REALLY want to be cleaning multi-colored sand-filled poop up for several days. And you don't, trust me.

Contact paper (clear or colored)
Colored sand
Optional: scissors and paper, or photos cut from magazines, or other flat stuff to stick down
Outside area to work that you don't mind having covered in sand


Cut Contact paper to be about the size of a sheet of printer paper. Peel backing off to expose the sticky side, then tape it securely sticky-side up to a table or work surface. I found it was easiest to use one of my trusty craft trays for this (makes it easier to pick up and knock off the excess sand at the end).

Stick down any paper or other flat things you want to use. If you want to mimic a "real" sand art page, cut shapes out of construction paper and then cut inside them to form just the frame of the shape, so that the child can sprinkle sand inside the outline. Or just stick down pictures, or sequins, or glitter, or random sticks that blow onto the sheet from the windstorm that has kicked up since you started the craft.

Let child apply sand to the sticky parts of the Contact paper.

We still had the sand in the little bags it came in, so I just cut the corner off the bag and let her pour it and spread it out with her fingers.
You could also put it in small bowls and let them use spoons or their fingers to sprinkle it on the paper. You can get really creative with this - put their hand down and sprinkle around it to make a handprint, then fill it in with a different color; trace letters or pictures you slide underneath the clear Contact paper; etc.

When you've finished all the sand stuff, pick up the paper and knock off the excess (and trust me, there WILL be excess). We did this by just picking up the whole tray so I didn't have to deal with floppy sticky sandy Contact paper much.

If you want to preserve the sand art (i.e. not have it dribble sand all over your kitchen floor for the next three weeks), stick a piece of clear Contact paper on the art so the sand is sandwiched between the sheets. If you want, cut the outside of the sheets to be even, or into a shape, but remember - the sand is going to REALLY dull the scissors fast, so don't use your good sewing scissors for this!

If you used clear Contact paper for both sheets, you can hang the art in the window as a suncatcher. Otherwise, it looks great on the refrigerator, or as a small placemat for snacks, etc.

Hope you have fun with this project! Now, let's just hope I can find a cheap source for more sand, because we're going through it at a fast clip around here ...


Laura said...

Very clever! You always come up with such great ideas for art projects - are you sure you've never worked as a kindergarten teacher in a past life or something?! : )

Elizabeth Wickland said...

You can use salt or sugar and color it with food coloring, too, if you're in a pinch for colored sand. Plus, it's edible, so not as big a problem if your kiddo eats it. =D (though a pile of salt might be deterrent enough for most kids!)

Thanks for the brilliant idea!