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Like Sands Through the Hourglass  
Sand Art


FunPlaying in the sand is something almost every child loves to do. With summer more than a few months away and the weather still a bit cold to make the sandbox a viable option, you can bring the sand indoors for your child in the form of a sand art project. This simple project utilizes basic materials to enable your child to create a colorful three-dimensional craft project that makes a wonderful decorative addition to his or her room or elsewhere in your home.

What You Will Need:

  • Clean play sand (available at home improvement centers).Quantity depends upon the size of the jar you choose.
  • Dry Tempera paint powder in three or four different colors (available at craft stores and art supply stores)
  • Sandwich size zippered food storage bags
  • Flat-bottomed plastic bowls
  • Plastic spoon and/or fork
  • A lidded clear glass or plastic jar
  • A wooden skewer or toothpick


  • Paraffin wax
  • Double boiler
  • Craft glue
  • Tissue paper or decorative (gift wrap) paper
  • Safety scissors

The first step in the project is coloring the sand. There are two ways to color the sand. The first and quickest way is to use dry tempera paint powders. They come in a wide variety of colors and all you need to do is mix the desired color into a small quantity of sand, adding tempera paint until you obtain the desired color and shade.

You may also use food coloring to add color to the sand. To do so, put a small amount of sand in a plastic bowl or cup and just cover with water. Add food coloring to the bowl and gently stir to distribute the color through the sand. Kids can have fun mixing the basic colors of red, blue, yellow, and green to obtain other color variations (i.e., red and blue to make purple or red and yellow to make orange). Allow the sand to sit in the colored water until the desired color is obtained. Drain the water from the sand and spread the sand on multiple layers of paper toweling and allow it to dry. Sands colored by either method can be stored in zippered food storage bags or covered plastic containers for future craft project use.

Once you have a supply of three or four colors of sand prepared, it's time for your child to get creative! Spread a couple layers of newspaper over a flat work surface to make cleanup a bit easier. Place the colored sand in containers and put them within easy reach of your child. Flat-bottomed plastic bowls work well and will be more difficult to tip and spill. Then turn your child loose and see what happens. Start layering different colors of sand in the jar to create interesting forms and patterns. The jar can be gently tilted while pouring sand to create high and low forms of color. Your child can also use a wooden skewer or toothpick to modify the design. Simply stick the skewer or toothpick gently into the jar and through the sand. Then, pull the toothpick up through the sand while pressing the point against the wall of the jar. The sand will create lines and waves to add additional interest to the sand layers.

FunOnce the sand art creation is complete, you may want to preserve the creation so it can be displayed. If any space is left in the jar, the sand will shift with very little movement and may destroy some of the intricate lines and designs your child created. One method of preserving the creation is to seal the jar with a layer of melted paraffin wax. Note: This is a job for an adult since hot wax can splash and burn skin. Children should be kept a safe distance from the project while undertaking this final step. Simply melt a block of wax slowly over a double boiler. Once melted, carefully pour the wax onto the top of the sand creation until it is just below the rim of the jar. Allow the wax to sit, undisturbed, until it cools and hardens. Once cooled, the sand should be held in place by the wax cap and the design will be much more stable while being moved.

If you choose not to seal the creation with wax, add a final layer of sand to the top of the jar filling it as completely as possible (you want to eliminate any air space between the top of the sand and the jar lid). You may want to mound a bit of the sand in the middle of the jar so when the lid is in place, the mound of sand flattens to fill in any voids that would allow the sand space to move about.

If the lid is plain or covered with a product name, your child can use some items around the house to decorate the lid and make it a more suitable crowning touch to his or her sand creation. A little colored tissue paper or decorative wrapping paper can be applied to the lid using craft glue. Brush a layer of glue on the lid. Be sure to cover the top and sides of the lid. Place the lid (glue side down) onto a small piece of tissue paper or the underside of some decorative paper. Press the paper onto the glue-covered surface and down the sides of the lid. Trim away any excess paper from the lid with safety scissors. Screw the lid onto the jar and—Voilá! Your child has a colorful craft project made with his or her own hands that can take a place of pride on a mantle or table.

Sometimes it's amazing what can be done with a few simple, inexpensive materials, a parent's enthusiasm and guidance, and a child's creativity and excitement. Regardless of the outcome, the end result is a creation made by your child that enabled you to spend time together. How could either of you lose?

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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