Make a Native American Sandpainting

First Grade Painting & Drawing Activities: Make a Native American Sandpainting

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Historically, Navajo sandpainting was a religious art used in medicinal ceremonies. These days, secular sandpaintings are sold in tourist shops and Southwestern art galleries. Whether you’re teaching your children about the Native peoples of the American Southwest or simply looking for a fun project, sandpainting is the perfect activity for you and your child to enjoy together.

What You Need:

  • Clean sand, ideally fine, white sand
  • Bowls
  • Water
  • Food coloring in assorted colors
  • A spoon
  • Rimmed baking sheets
  • Thick paper or cardboard
  • White glue
  • A paintbrush

What You Do:

  1. Mix handfuls of sand with some water and enough food coloring (one color per bowl) to make the color intense. Stir and pour out any extra water.  Be sure to use bowls that you wouldn't mind getting stained, in case the food coloring leaves a little something behind.
  2. Spread the sand on rimmed baking sheets to dry.  Make sure the sand is completely dry before you and your child begin your painting. 
  3. Cover the paper liberally with glue, using the brush to spread it around.
  4. Your child can drop different colored sand all over the paper to make patterns, a picture, or a free form composition.
  5. Let the sandpainting dry overnight before moving or hanging it.  (Be sure to shake off any loose sand before hanging the your painting). 
Hannah Boyd has two young children. She lives in New Hampshire.

Updated on Dec 28, 2012
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