For years kids have enjoyed making sand art - layering colored sand in bottles.  However, the colored sand can be quite expensive.  Learn the secret to color your own sand at a fraction of the cost.

Having a summer B-B-Q and need an activity to keep the kids busy? Why not color some sand ahead of time then let the kids do some sand art at the picnic table after dinner.

Materials and Supplies

Craft Supplies:

  • Sand - I bought a bag of play sand (this will make a LOT of colored sand) for under $3 at a local home improvement store. You can also purchase sand in toy stores and garden centers.
  • Disposable cups, plates and spoons; one of each for each color of sand you wish to make
  • Small amount of water
  • Powdered Tempera paint * You can also use liquid tempera paint. If you do eliminate the water and add a little at a time.
  • Funnel **
  • Clear recycled containers such as empty water bottles.
  • Optional: Cork that fits snuggly into the top of your container.

*I used red, yellow and blue paints and mixed them to make other colors such as orange, green and purple (see below).

Craft Instructions

**If you do not have a funnel you can make one by either removing the cap from and cutting the top off of a clean empty water or soda bottle or by rolling a piece of paper into a cone shape and leaving a hole at the bottom for the sand to go through.

To color the sand:

  1. Scoop some sand into a disposable cup.  I colored 1/2 cup at a time.
  2. Add some powdered tempera paint to the sand and mix the two together with a plastic spoon.  I used about 1teaspoon paint powder per 1/2 cup of sand but experiment with different amounts of paint and sand to make darker and lighter colors.
  3. Start by adding a teaspoon of water to the sand/paint mixture and stir. You need the water to activate the paint but you don't want to get the sand too wet as it will take longer for it to dry. Add more water as needed to get an even color in the sand.
  4. Once the sand is colored, spread it out on a disposable plate or on a piece of cardboard to to dry.  Let the sand dry thoroughly.  If it gets clumpy as it dries, simply use the back of a spoon or your fingers to break up any lumps.

Creating Sand Art:

Now that the sand is colored and dry, use a funnel to pour layers of the colored sand into bottles.  For my sample, I used an 8oz water bottle and capped it off with a snug fitting cork.

learn to color ordinary sand for sand artMix the basic colors to make more colors:

  • Orange = yellow & red
  • Green = blue & yellow
  • Purple = red & blue

Printable Instructions

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