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Sandpainting

Sandpainting Activity

based on 157 ratings

Sandpainting is practiced in many cultures, usually for religious and healing purposes. This sacred art incorporates many different colors of sand and practitioners create beautiful and complex patterns. Some of the more well-known traditions involving sandpainting are Navajo or Tibetan. When ceremonies involving sandpainting are complete the sand is left to be carried away by wind or time. Here's how to make sand pictures that will be simple and long lasting, as well as a lot fun to make! 

What You Need:

  • Assortment of colored sand, or food coloring to create different colors of sand
  • White school glue
  • Warm water
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper—project works best with an off white colored paper so you can see the glue easier.
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic bowl
  • Craft stick

What You Do:

  1. Spread newspapers down on your workspace. This will help catch the sand and make clean up easier.
  2. Take a small amount of warm water and add it to some glue in your bowl, to thin it out a little bit. You don't want it to be too watery, but thin enough to be able to spread with a paint brush. Use a craft stick to stir it.
  3. Next have your child paint a pattern or picture with the glue.
  4. Encourage your child to gently trickle different colors of sand on the picture where he wants the different colors of sand to go. Don't worry if all the sand doesn't stick.
  5. After he's satisfied with his sandpainting lay his artwork aside to dry.
  6. Gently turn the picture over and let the unused sand fall off onto the newspaper. Your picture is now ready for display!

Did You Know?

  • In Tibet, sandpaintings are created in the form of complex mandalas that could take days to complete. Once they were finished the mandalas would be destroyed to show that life was not permanent. 
  • Sandpainting remains a staple of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. In fact, the Dia de los Muertos festival in Seattle is famous for them. Like the Navajo and Tibetan sandpaintings these paintings are swept away to symbolically illustrate our ever-changing existence.
Hannah Boyd has two young children. She lives in New Hampshire.

Updated on Jun 16, 2014
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See more activities in: First Grade, Painting & Drawing
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