Coloring sand for the sandbox is a simple, interesting, and cost-effective playtime activity. Apart from being a great sensory play activity, colored sand can also develop creativity skill and motor skills.
Depending on the age or your child, they may be able to help you with homemade colored sand. Encouraging them to dye their own colored sand may make them engage in this sensory play activity more often.
So, what do you need to make your own DIY colored sand? Let’s get to it.
- Sand (preferably white sand such as beach sand)
- A bowl
- Plastic zipper bags
- Food coloring
- Measuring cup
- A dropper
- Tray or Baking sheet
You can easily make colored sand at home with a few simple ingredients.
You can purchase sand from the dollar store, pet store or by grabbing some beach sand.
Put the sand in a bowl. Any kind of sand works, but for coloring, light-colored sand works better as the color may be more vibrant.
Consider sieving the sand first as it allows you to sift out small rocks and twigs.
Divide the sand into smaller portions and place them in separate plastic zipper bags.
Make sure you do not overfill the bags. How much sand should you use? If you have a small bag, 1 cup of sand is enough.
Now, pour some water into each bag to dampen the sand. Make sure you do not add much water to it. Pour out excess water.
Dying sand: Add a few drops of the food coloring of your choice onto the sand. About 4 to 5 drops are sufficient to color 1 cup of sand in one bag.
You can create different colors, including blue, yellow, red, or mix some food coloring to make purple or orange.
Once the sand dries completely, the color appears lighter compared to the damp sand. With this in mind, you can add more food coloring depending upon the color payoff and the vividity of sand your child likes.
Consider food coloring for this activity as it is safe for your child.
Bright colors can make sand play and sand art much more engaging!
Seal the bag securely and squeeze and shake it to mix all the ingredients well. Continue with the mixing for a few minutes to ensure that the sand particles are coated with the color and everything gets blended properly.
At this stage, you can add a few more drops of color if you want. If you add more color, make sure to mix it well again.
Once the sand appears fully colored and if you are satisfied, transfer it to a tray or a baking sheet. Now, spread it evenly on a tray or baking sheet and place it in a sunny place for faster drying.
The DIY colored sand is ready for your homemade sandbox! You can make batches of different colored sand following these steps as well. Now, playtime will be more fun and relaxing for your child. Playing with colored sand helps to calm them and also develops sensory skills as well.
Colored Sand Activities for Different Ages
Sand Activities for Toddlers
Kids from 1 to 3 years of age can explore the colors, sensation, and texture of the sand.
- They can start filling containers and pouring sand from one container to another.
- They might also enjoy their own sand patties where they can create shapes with their hands and fill them up with different colors.
- Hide and Seek – put toys in the sand and dig them up again.
- Making Sand Ice Cream is another idea for toddlers as it helps develop their fine motor skills by spooning, scooping, filling, and transferring sand.
Sand Activities for Preschoolers
Kids from 3 to 5 years of age may have developed a bit more creativity and a sense of imagination to do a variety of things with sand.
- They can create patterns with the sand, build castles or any structures of their choice.
- They can also create patterns by pouring the colored sand onto a tray and then draw shapes with utensils like spoons or forks. You can also encourage them to use their finger to draw these shapes.
- You can draw an outline of a simple drawing. For example, a flower vase with different flowers. Get your child to paint some glue on one portion of the artwork, and then sprinkle some sand on top of it. Repeat this with another portion of the artwork with different colored sand.
Sand activities for younger kids
Kids from 5 to 7 years of age can start trying out more complex sand structures and can also try some new ideas as well.
- Build a path or roads using the colored sand and then drive their toy cars or use diggers to dig out the sand and fill it back again.
- Pre-writers are able to trace shapes, draw straight lines, intersecting lines, and zigzag with their hands and can feel the sensation, which helps to improve sensory skills.
- Early writers can trace lowercase and uppercase letters on the sand.
Sand Activities for Older Kids
Kids above 7 years of age can try different sand art activities.
- You can get them to create a scene from a story they have read or create something unique on their own.
- They can create beautiful sand art by creating designs using different colored sand.
Benefits of Playing with Sand
Playing with sand is extremely beneficial for the improvement of the fine and gross motor skills of your child which includes shaping, molding, mixing, pouring, cutting, and digging.
This allows them to practice using both hands together and develop bilateral coordination skills.
Playing with kinetic sand improves sensory awareness, in particular tactile awareness. Being able to manipulate and feel different sensory textures can help with improving sensory experiences.
Social and Emotional Development
Sensory play activities can help provide a relaxing sensory effect on children.
Additionally, feeling comfortable playing with sand allows your child to engage in this fun activity with other peers. This can improve social development.
Playing with sand is a kind of sensory play that develops problem-solving skills and cognitive development. If your child is learning how to build castles or stack sand shapes on top of each other, this can help them develop problem-solving and social-emotional skills.
Additionally, older children may start learning how to draw shapes, letters, and numbers in the sand. This requires their brain to remember how to form these and then draw them into the sand.
Creativity and Imagination
Sand play builds and fosters the imagination and creativity of children. Kids can be creative with the sand and make any shape or figure using their imagination.
Encourage your little one to have creative fun and make different buildings or scenes. They may mix the different colored sand to create a creative piece of artwork. These simple activities aid their imagination and creativity.
Sensory Sand Play
There are certain major sensory skills that improve while playing with sand. These can be a big boost in your child’s development.
Tactile Sensory Skill
Tactile sensory skill is the ability to sense touch, temperature, pressure, and vibrations. Playing with sand enhances these abilities. For example, when your child touches sand and discovers the fine granules, they exercise their tactile sensory skills.
Also, their sensory skills improve when they learn to differentiate the sand according to their temperatures, such as the sand which is warmer (just after drying in the sun) and the sand that is cooler (in the shade). This, in turn, helps them to distinguish the temperatures of other objects around them.
They may also learn to distinguish the difference between dry sand and wet sand. You can teach them the difference and get them to feel it with their hands. Later, you can ask them to close their eyes and see if they can tell the difference between wet and dry sand.
Proprioceptive Sensory Skill
Proprioceptive sensory skill refers to the awareness of one’s body part, specifically the awareness of the movements of muscles and joints.
Sensory sand play, in particular pushing, digging, and scooping actions, develops proprioceptive skills. This can also act as a calming activity for children.
It is always a good idea to introduce new things to your child to help them grow in a better way. DIY-colored sand is a fun and attractive way to engage your child while providing them with developmental benefits and so much fun!
From toddlers to school-aged children, there are so many activities that you can do by playing with sand. Toddlers can enjoy the feeling and play with the sand for a few hours. Whilst, older children can create a new world using the sand and a few buckets and small characters and animals.
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