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::: making coloured sand


Don’t you just love those bottles of coloured sand stacked in drifting layers?

We wanted to have a go ourselves and tried to find a way that would be child friendly. We found recipes for using paint, but are not too keen on that idea as if the sand gets wet (and lets face it it always does), the children’s hands become heavily stained from the dye.

Then we thought that perhaps pavement chalk could be a good alternative.

First of all we placed some sand on a piece of paper, then rubbed a stick of chalk back and forth through it.

It coloured up beautifully.

Then we grated some chalk and added it to the sand. Again a beautiful result.

Two easy fine motor activities for little hands!

::: POST SCRIPT :::

Bridget commented on this post … I am so excited to try this! I am a daycare provider and think my kids will really enjoy this. A few ?’s though- how hard do you have to roll the chalk and when you grated the chalk what did you use?

As we did not get a photo at the time of the children grating the chalk to colour the sand this is one we took this week of the small cheese/garlic grater we used at our ‘More Than Just a Sandpit Workshop’. As for how hard was it for the children … not at all. The child rubbing the sand on the paper in the photo above was four years old and managed very well. The grating however was more popular!

We hope that helps. :) :)


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18 Responses to “making coloured sand”

  1. avatar Anna says:

    I love the idea of using chalk! It’s an activity I had planned but I was going to use food colouring. Chalk would be MUCH easier and won’t stain. Thanks for always being so inspiring :-)

    ::: Anna in the past we have used powdered edicol dye (food colouring) to colour our sand and when the children play with wet hand they stain terribly! Chalk on the other hand is so interactive and the children LOVE the grating or rolling actions. :) :)

  2. avatar Scott says:

    Easy, fun, and a great result. What more could you ask for?

    ::: Hmmm Scott let me see? … Nope! … Nothing! :) :)

  3. avatar tanya says:

    you can also use salt if sand isnt handy

    ::: You could too Tanya! :) :)

  4. avatar Deborah says:

    This is a splended idea!!

    ::: Thanks Deborah! :) :)


  5. [...] since I put this basket of sand materials together, I have been learning new ideas about how to make your own colored sand like this post from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning.  So I think I will share this idea with the teachers and see if we can get the kids involved in [...]

  6. avatar Bridget says:

    I am so excited to try this! I am a daycare provider and think my kids will really enjoy this. A few ?’s though- how hard do you have to roll the chalk and when you grated the chalk what did you use?

    ::: Bridget once the smooth outer coating of the chalk has been ground slightly by the sand it becomes much looser therefore the colour releases easier. Our sand was straight from the sand pit so damp but not wet which worked better than completely dry sand. We used a fine grater used for garlic or parmesan cheese. I have added a photo of it to the post. The little hands in the photo were of a 4 year old child and she managed the rub the chalk very easily but by far the grater was more popular! :) :)

  7. avatar Amy says:

    Finally!!! Thank you for sharing.

    ::: Finally? … You’re welcome Amy. :) :)


  8. [...] different methods of making it – The Magic Onion suggests using food colouring and Irresistible Ideas for play based learning suggests using chunky sidewalk chalks (ELC sells these as well as other places). As we don’t [...]

  9. avatar Pam says:

    @ Rainy Day Mum, We’re going to try the chalk method this year because last year we found even powdered food dye came off on little hands and dyed them if the sand became damp or even if their hands got a little sweaty in the heat. So we will definitely be giving this a shot!

    ::: Good on you Pam! it really is a lot more pleasant than the powdered paint method … AND so much fun for the children to make themselves! :) :)

  10. avatar Erin says:

    I never even thought of using sand [chalk], I was just going to use food colouring. Thank god for Google.

    I had a question though. I have to make a resource box for my Children’s Services course and I was wondering what bottle would you suggest to put the sand in, so that the children can shake it up and down?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    And thanks for the tip about the chalk. =)

    ::: Erin I’m not too sure whether you mean to place the sand into a bottle to use a musical instrument, a bottle the children can pour the sand out of or a container for the children to sprinkle the sand onto a surface. :) :)

  11. avatar Mel says:

    Hi I was just wondering what a good name for this experience would be??? I think this is a fantastic idea and cant wait to try it :)

    ::: Well Mel we simply called it coloured sand but if you came up with something different please let us know! :) :)

  12. avatar Mel says:

    OK thanks……..Im doing my cert 3 and im doing an assessment and have to set up an experience for the children. I cant wait to do this.

    ::: Our children LOVED it Mel … it’s SO MUCH fun. :) :)

  13. avatar JT says:

    This is a fantastic website!

    ::: Thank you JT … Your comment is much appreciated. :) :)


  14. [...] different methods of making it – The Magic Onion suggests using food colouring and Irresistible Ideas for play based learning suggests using chunky sidewalk chalks (ELC sells these as well as other places). As we don’t [...]

  15. avatar Carmel Matheson says:

    Hello, just thought I would let you know how happy I am to have found this recipe, I have a friend who has early onset dementia as his grasp of understanding numbers and letters diminish we need to find more and more play-based and visual activities. I intend to spend some more time trolling your site for other ideas too. So thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!

    ::: Lovely to know we can help all age ranges Carmel! … ENJOY :) :)

  16. avatar Jane says:

    Fantastic – I have wanted to bring some coloured sand into my nursery as we already have coloured rice and pasta. This is great (excuse the pun) ! :)

    ::: Hahaha … You are excused Jane … We are very hard to rub up the wrong way around here. Heeheehee. Enjoy! :) :)

  17. avatar fiona says:

    this is a great idea – we didn’t have enough small graters so I use small sieves instead – the result was the same and the kids loved it. We added the layered bottles to our fairy garden. Thank you!

  18. avatar Ade says:

    Awesome, all the children love it, chalks the best! thank you so muchh

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