Creating a Portable Sand Tray

School Counselor Blog's first guest post!

Creating a Portable Sand Tray by Shelly Blair, M.Ed., NCC
One of the students' favorite (and mine too!) activities to choose to play with is the sand tray.  There really isn’t a “wrong” way to use the sand tray.  Some children use objects in the sand to tell a story, some simply play with the sand because it is soothing to them, some do not say anything but the themes in their play tell the whole story.  It really is powerful to watch!

When I was in graduate school, I used a wooden sand tray. However, when I looked into getting one of my own, I realized they are very expensive!  If you are like me and you have to travel between schools, or you are just starting out and and do not have the money to buy an expensive wooden sand tray, I have a great solution!

Make Your Own Sand Tray
I simply bought a clear plastic container (mine is approximately 8-10 inches deep) from Walmart which cost around five dollars. I got one with a locking lid since I knew I would be traveling with the tray and moving it around a lot.

Sand is affordable if you buy it from a home improvement or lawn care store. (Tip:  Sand is usually seasonal. A good time to buy sand is in the summer when sandboxes are in season.) I am fortunate enough to live near a sand plant which provides free sand if you are willing to pick it up. Simply pour the sand into a clear plastic container, put the lid on it, and you will have your very own portable sand tray! 

Sand Tray Figurines
It can be very expensive to order sand tray miniatures online.  I started my collection by going to the local dollar store.  I was able to purchase a variety of items at a very low cost!  I bought dinosaurs, policemen, army men, cars, trees, etc.  When I go shopping, I check out the clearance aisles, and can sometimes find some great deals. Yard sales and flea markets are also great places to find sand tray items. It is important to remember to provide a variety of themes for students to choose from (people, buildings, animals, objects etc.)  I am continually on the lookout for sand tray items to add to my collection

I always have my sand tray within reach for my students.  They love it and I love it!

Shelly is a Elementary Certified School Counselor and Nationally Certfied School Counselor. She currently serves four different elementary schools consisting of approximately 1000 students. Shelly is always looking for quick, easy, and cheap ways to stock her four offices! She uses a variety of play therapy techniques with the students, and especially loves sand tray. If you have any questions about sand tray please feel free to comment below or email Shelly!

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