DIY Sand Tray

I didn’t really know the power of sand trays until I was in grad school. While, there are many uses for sand tray in counseling, you can also just make one for your kid to play with! I initially made it for Ellison, who is 2.5 years old, but Averly, who is almost five years old, seemed to get into it the most. I’m not a trained play therapist so I can’t give you all the details of sand tray as a therapy technique but it is insightful to watch a kid create in it! When I was in the Elementary school, some kids would come into the counseling office all worked up and after playing with the sand for a few minutes, they would quickly calm down! Also, it’s a known fact that boys talk more if they have something in their hands. So whether this is for your counseling office, your home, or your work space, you can benefit!

  • Wooden tray or plastic box with lid
  • Play sand
  • Chalkboard vinyl (optional) for the label
  • Tupperware for the animals
  • Variety of animals
  • Miniature landscape accessories

I chose to use a wooden box that I got at Michaels. It was  cheap, and to be honest, I’m not sure if it’ll hold up being carried around. The sand weighs more than you think! When I was in the Elementary school, we just used clear storage bins that lock on the sides. I am picky about wanting things to be in sight, and thus wanting them to look pretty!

Once you have your box or bin, you’ll fill it halfway with play sand. You can get a big bag of this at Walmart for a little over $2! Leave some room because you’ll have little people moving sand around in there! In the school I worked at, we had one tub of natural sand and one tub of blue sand. Sometimes kids like the color, so feel free to get creative!

And now to the animals and accessories!! I bought these farm animals and these wild animals off amazon. The rest of my supplies I bought at Michaels and here is what I got: a picket fence, trees, Toob Knights and dragons, Mind crafts farm animals, Mind crafts reptiles, You’ll want a variety so kids can express themselves or situations! You may think the fence isn’t necessary but trust me it is, it allows for separation and boundaries to be made! I ended up cutting the fence into four different pieces but the wire allows for them to make it in any shape.

You can have one tupperware for all your items, or as you gain more animals and people you can have small bins to organize the items. At the Elementary school we had them on a cart and the items were organized in bins that had holes so the sand didn’t stay in the bin. If you’re wanting to add more items considering getting items like bridges, buildings, and families.

And now if you’re like me, you LOVE labels!! My box had a plate on it but nothing inside so I made a label out of chalkboard vinyl. The plate pulls right off so you can cut the vinyl then stick it on your box, and put the plate back over it. Easy, but adds a lot!

There you have it! Your portable sand tray for your kid to play in, build their imagination, and calm their spirit!


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