Sand Art Activities to Help Children Cope with Feelings


By Guest Blogger Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Understanding feelings, being able to identify our feelings, and sharing our feelings are important for a person’s emotional and psychological wellness. Happy, sad, angry, proud, afraid… these are all normal feelings. As a psychotherapist, I spend most of my day helping others 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 written before about the impact of sand play in a child’s life, 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. I love it because the final products are beautiful and each different in their own way. I incorporate sand art activities into therapy sessions, as well as to help my own children learn about and cope with their feelings.

Glass Bottles of Sand


Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Various Colored Sand
  2. Sand art bottles- Various kinds includeSand Art Bottle Assortment packs,Under The Sea Theme, and Melissa & Doug Sand Art Bottles (my favorite).
  3. Funnels. I use this3″ Sand Art Funnel
  4. Sand Art Bracelets
  5. Art tray (optional) to keep the mess contained. I keep various sizes of the Creativitrayson hand. They are a life-saver for cleanup, whether it’s sand, paint, or other crafts.


“Happy Feelings” Bottle or Bracelet:

  • Identify five or six positive feelings. Examples include:Happy, Peaceful, Proud, Excited, Thankful, Loved, Looking forward to__________.
  • For each positive feeling, choose a color of sand and ask your child to talk about aperson, place, thing, or time when he or she felt that particular feeling.
  • While talking about the memory or story associated with that emotion, the child pours the colored sand into the bottle or bracelet. He or she can fill the bottle with one sand color (representing one positive emotion) or lots of colors (representing many positive emotions). Let your child know he/she can look at or hold the bottle any time they need help remembering these positive feelings and memories.

“Mixed Emotions” Bottle:

  • Mixed Emotions Sand Bottle
  • Have the child identify an experience during which they felt mixed emotions. An example might be starting a new year at school and feeling scared, excited, and insecure. Or welcoming a new baby brother or sister and feeling happy and proud, but also anxious and neglected.
  • For each feeling, choose a color of sand.
  • While talking about the memory or story associated with those emotions, the child pours the colored sand into the bottle. Your child can layer the colors, use more of one color than the others, even mix the colors before pouring in the bottle.
  • Talk with your child about how the filled bottle represents that we can have many feelings, sometimes about the same experience or even all at once. Talk about how sometimes feelings get all mixed up until we’re not even sure what feelings are in there. Explain that talking to someone, like a parent or counselor, can help us sort out mixed up feelings

“I’m Loved” Sand Bracelets:

We have all heard of friendship bracelets, and this idea is an extension of that idea 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.Sand Bracelets
  • Each person chooses a few colors that represent something they love about the other person. For example: “I love how you hug me tight when we are together and will choose purple to remember that.”
  • Each person, while talking about what each color means, pours the sand into the plastic bracelet.
  • Encourage your child to wear the bracelet to feel close to you when you are apart. You can each wear the bracelets you made representing how you feel about the other person, or exchange the bracelets to remind yourselves how much the other person loves you.

To the right is a picture of my daughter’s sand bracelets (she wanted to make more than one!).


Kim Peterson is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist with a private practice in Kingwood, Texas. This article originally appeared on her blog at Kim’s Counseling Corner.

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