Sand Art Activities to Help Children Cope with Feelings

sand-art-activities-to-help-children-cope-with-feelingsUnderstanding our feelings, being able to identify our feelings, and sharing our feelings are important for our emotional and psychological wellness.

Happy, sad, angry, proud, afraid…these are all normal feelings. As a psychotherapist and child therapist, I spend most of my day helping others to sort out and cope with these feelings, and as a mom, I take time to teach these skills to my children as well. I’ve posted on the impact of sand play in a child’s life before, but I especially love the idea of using colored sand as a tool for teaching and coping with feelings.

Sand art has been around for quite some time now, as described on Smithsonian.com. I love it because the final creations are beautiful, and each one is different in its own way. I incorporate sand art activities into play therapy sessions, as well as to help my own children learn about and cope with their feelings.

Getting Started — Here’s What You Need:

Ideas for Using Sand Art in Therapy

Happy Feelings Bottle or Bracelet:

  • sand-art-play-therapyIdentify various positive feelings: happy, peaceful, proud, excited, thankful, loved, and looking forward to…
  • For each feeling, choose a color and ask the child to tell you about a person, place, thing, or time that the child feels that positive feeling.
  • The child pours the colored sand into the bottle or bracelet while they talk about their memory or anything they associate with that feeling.
  • Talk to the child about how they can take this bottle with them to help them remember these positive feelings and memories.

Mixed Emotions Bottle:

  • Identify various positive and negative feelings: happy, sad, angry, peaceful, ashamed, proud, excited, lonely, frustrated, loved…
  • For each feeling, choose a color and ask the child to tell you about a person, place, thing, or time that the child associates with that particular feeling.
  • The child pours the colored sand into the bottle while they talk about their memory and association.
  • Processing the bottle: the bottle can be an analogy for how we all have lots of feelings. You can choose to mix the sand colors and describe how feelings often get mixed up and it’s hard to figure out what colors (i.e. feelings) are inside. Use this to reinforce that talking to someone can help them sort out their mixed feelings.

Feeling Loved Bottle:

sand-art-therapyWe have all heard of friendship bracelets, so this idea is an extension of that done with a parent and child. This is especially good for children with separation anxiety or who have to be away from a parent for an extended amount of time.

  • The parent and child each make a bracelet.
  • They choose a few colors and describe something they love about the other. For example, “I love how you hug me tight when we are together and will choose purple to remember that.”
  • Talk with them about how they can wear their bracelet to feel close to one another when they are apart and how they have a special bond.

The image above shows my daughter’s sand bracelet creations (she wanted to make more than one!). I’d love to hear your ideas for using sand art with children.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you! What a great resource. I’m wondering where you find the bottles and bracelets? I think I’ve seen the sand online.
    Thank you 🙂
    Jennifer

    • Hi Jennifer and thank you for reading! I get my supplies at amazon.com (click on the supply name for the link) and also see them at craft stores, like Michaels and Hobby Lobby.

    • Jennifer M.

      You can also order supplies from Oriental Trading Company.

  • Grandma J

    i came across your wonderful ideas , watched your video, and as a retired teacher I just want to say “fabulous”!
    I worked in the NYC public school system and would have loved to work with students on these expressions of their feelings! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Jerie

    I though I would share what I have used. With younger children (I work with 3-7yr olds) I used colored salt (rubbing sat with side walk chalk) instead of sand. I do this just incase the child gets the “sand” in their eyes, it won’t scratch their eyeball, it may sting but not hurt them. I’m always thinking of safety,