Sand Tray Tools and Tips

Sand Tray Tools and Tips

by Kelly Bennett, Clinical Social Worker 

  1. A plastic storage container. Preferably blue.  
  2. Sand or Kinetic Sand 
  3. Various small toys from your children’s toys.  
  4. A container for the sand tray toys.  
  5. A sifting tool for easy clean up.  

I prefer a blue tray to represent the sky. When filling your tray with sand fill the tray one inch deep. Any more sand will create a tray that is too deep. Anytime I go to the beach or where sand is located, I use a pringles can, to collect sand. This is generally enough to fill your sand tray. If you choose a larger tray/container you may need two pringles cans of sand.  

Toys, any small toy you can find in your child’s playroom or toy collection is good to use in the tray. I like to have people, small furniture, tiny sports gear, vehicles, marbles or small glass beads. You will want green, red, and blue glass beads or marbles. There will represent grass, fire, and water or the sky. Note the beads/marbles are not a must have. People, furniture, and items that might represent your child are the most important. If you have any small Halloween type toys to represent fear, anxiety, sadness they are good to have in your collection. You will also want items to represent good. This may be a cross, or other religious object that represent your beliefs.  

When setting up the sand tray choose a place in your home that is easy for the child to access. You can set up rules for when the tray can be used by your child. Have the Mindful Yawning poster and the Slow Stretch poster by your sand tray. This will cue your child to take a deep mindful yawn and slow stretch prior to them beginning the sand tray therapy.   

When asking your child about their tray remember to do not point at objects. Instead hover your hand over an object you would like more information about by saying “Tell me about this…”. It is perfectly okay for the child to not share about their tray. It is very important the child does not clean up the sand tray they have completed. It should be cleaned after they leave the room. If you’d like you can take a photo of the tray. This may provide you a bigger picture after the child had completed several sand trays. The trays can be used with ages 3 and up. The children do need to understand the sand remains in the tray. Sand is not thrown in or outside of the tray. You know your child best and can establish appropriate guidelines for your child.  

If you have further questions, please ask by emailing [email protected] or texting 623-755-4585. You may also visit my website at Take care and be well. 


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