Hands-On Crafts: Special Sand Sculptures
 Fun Under the Sun with Lasting Appeal
When you feel the cool grass between your toes, hear the familiar tune of the ice-cream truck and have played your millionth game of freeze tag, you know it’s summer! Kids are naturally active outside—but they may need gentle prodding to try being artistic outside. Outdoor art allows kids great freedom of expression. (Translation: They can be messy!) With some directions, planning and a little imagination, your kids can exercise their creativity and give their artistic abilities a workout.

Children spend hours creating magnificent sand creations at the beach, the neighborhood park or the backyard sandbox—but these masterpieces are temporary. Follow these simple instructions to make a sand souvenir of your summer days that you and your child can keep for years.

 Ages: 2 to 11

Time required:  1 to 2 hours

Skills required:  painting, cutting, measuring

Materials needed:  plaster mix (available at craft and hobby stores), sand, water, a mixing container, washable paints, paintbrushes, clear acrylic sealer


First find the sand in which you will make your project. The sand should be clean and slightly moist. If you are working in your backyard sandbox, you might want to remove some sand from the sandbox and place it in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. This will protect the rest of your sandbox from plaster spills by keeping the sand for the project isolated.

Next, have the kids carve the shape of what they want their sculptures to be into the sand. Remember, this is not building a shape that protrudes out of the sand, but rather carving a shape one to two inches into the sand. They can use their hands, their feet, cookie cutters and shaped cake pans, or anything else you find around the house. Experiment with the impressions that pressing an egg carton into the sand leaves, or carve out the letters of names with fingers.

 After your mold is prepared in the moist sand, mix the plaster according to the package directions. Kids can have a lot of fun doing the mixing by combining the water and plaster powder in a tightly sealed plastic container (even an empty yogurt container with a tight-fitting lid) and shaking the container until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. Immediately pour the wet plaster carefully into the sand mold. While the plaster hardens for about an hour, the kids have time for one more game of freeze tag and a quick ice-pop.

When the plaster is completely set, gently pull the sculpture out of the sand and use a soft paintbrush or old toothbrush to brush away the excess sand. The sandy sculpture can now be painted. Spread out some newspapers on the sidewalk and let them paint their objects d’art.  When the paint has dried, you can preserve their masterpieces by spraying them with a clear acrylic sealer or a light coat of hairspray.

For a complete list of all of Jill Jolton's Hands-On Crafts, click here.