3 Ways to Color Sandbox Sand for Your Kids

Color Sandbox Sand

We’ve all been through an art class that requires us to use colorful sand. Play sand is used to attract kids’ attention and is used in backyard sandboxes. Imagine the amount of sand you’d need to buy to fill the playbox of your kids and how much it would cost. Thankfully, you can create your own colorful sand right at home.

There are three ways to color sand for your kids’ sandbox. You can either use liquid food coloring, inject some color, or use color chalk or paint powder. You can use colored sand to create various art projects or as a new attraction for your kids to enjoy on their sandbox.

In this article, we’ll show you different ways you and your kids can make colorful sand. By following our step-by-step guide and using the right materials, you’ll find yourself enjoying this activity and making your backyard playground more fun and appealing experience for children and adults who are kids at heart.


Ways and Steps to Color Sandbox Sand

Using colored sand is a new way to perform creative learning. Not only does it enhance children’s color recognition, but it also increases their fine motor skills, enhances hand-eye coordination, helps them improve their planning and organization skills, boosts their imagination and creativity, and allows them to make their own choices.

Below are three ways to color the sand you can put on your kids’ sandbox.

  1. Using Liquid Food Coloring

Materials needed:

  • Light-colored sand
  • Plastic zippered bags
  • Measuring cup
  • Water
  • Liquid dropper
  • Baking sheet


Step 1: Get light-colored sand. You can buy it in art, aquarium supply, and hardware stores. If you have access to beaches where there is light-colored sand, that will work as well. As much as possible, try to get the lightest sand that you can as it will show the color more efficiently.


Step 2: Using plastic zippered bags, divide the grains of sand per color that you want. You will need to put the sand in a separate bag depending on its color. Don’t overfill the zippered bag as you’ll want ample space inside when you shake it. For instance, 1/4 to 1 cup of sand is enough if you have a small bag.


Step 3: Before mixing the food coloring, you can dampen the sand with water for it to easily mix. Using the liquid dropper, add a few drops of food coloring onto the sand. For instance, 3 to 4 drops are enough to color 1/4 cup of sand. Keep adding drops if you’ve used a larger amount of sand earlier.


If you don’t have food coloring, you can use liquid watercolor. Although, you would need to put more liquid watercolor to make it look colorful since it’s already diluted with water. Note not to use liquid watercolor if you’re conducting this activity on the beach as it’s not safe for animals. Food coloring, however, is safe to use and safe for animals.


Step 4: Tightly seal the zippered bags, squeeze the sand together, and shake thoroughly. Continue doing so and massage the sand altogether to ensure that everything mixes properly. If your colored sand is too light, you can add more drops of liquid coloring onto the bag. Remember that once your sand dries off, it will become lighter.


Step 5: Once you’re satisfied with the color, transfer the sand to a baking sheet. Note that you have to separate the sand per color. Spread the sand evenly on the baking sheet as thinly as possible. If you don’t have any baking sheets, you can use shallow dishes or trays.


Step 6: Put the baking sheet filled with sand in a preheated oven at 200° F for 5 to 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven before it completely dries off and let it air-dry for a couple of hours. If you leave the sand to completely dry off in the oven, the color of the sand will fade. Last but not least, never bake the sand if you used liquid watercolor.


You’re all done! You can now use this colored sand on art projects, backyard sandboxes, or to fill your vase with it. Although, you must remember never to use this sand in aquariums or water as the color will bleed out.


  1. Injecting Dye Color


Materials needed:

  • Light-colored sand
  • Plastic zippered bags
  • Sifter


Step 1: Collect light-colored sand. As mentioned earlier, you can purchase fine sand in different stores. You can also get sand on beaches as long as it’s light enough for you to clearly see the colors and for kids to play with it. You can use plastic zippered bags to collect the sand.


Step 2: Once you have the sand, use the sifter to get the grains. You can do it on the ground or use a bucket to collect the sifted sand. If you don’t have a metal sifter from your kitchen, you can use fine netting or an old window screen to perform this step.


Pour in your collected sand, shake the sifter, and remove any unwanted debris collected on the sifter. Keep doing so until you’ve done it with all the sand you’ve collected.


Step 3: Divide the sand per desired colors and put it in separate plastic zippered bags. Next, add enough water to the bag to dampen the sand. Don’t worry if you’ve added too much, as it will dry off just a little longer, later on.


Step 4: Pour the dye on the sand. Fabric dye is the best option if you’re using this way to color sand as it produces the most vibrant colors. Although, you can still use different types of dye.


Keep adding dye to the sand until you’re satisfied with the color. As mentioned earlier, don’t worry if the sand is dark in the beginning as it will fade once it dries. Be careful when handling dye because it can result in stains on clothing, furniture, and skin. Mix the sand thoroughly to ensure that all the sand in the bag is colored.


Step 5: Once you’re done mixing the sand, put it on a flat surface or plate where you can spread it. Leave it in a sunny area for a couple of hours, with little to no wind to ensure that it won’t get blown off. To help with the drying process, you can put paper towels on top of the sand to soak up any excess water or dye.


If you want it to dry faster, you can also bake it. Just follow step 6 in the previous section.

Once it’s completely dry, you can use your colored sand made with dye color.


  1. Using Colored Chalk or Paint Powder


Materials needed:

  • Light-colored sand
  • Plastic zippered bag
  • Tablespoon
  • Baking sheet


Step 1: Like with the previous ways to color your sand, you first need to buy light-colored sand, which is available in different stores, or collect some on the beach. Make sure that there are no stones or pebbles if you collect sand.


Step 2: Add 5 tablespoons of sand onto the zippered bag. If you want more sand of the same color, you can put some in a different set of bags. You can also use bowls or cups if you don’t have any plastic zippered bags.


Step 3: The next step consists of dampening the sand to ensure that the color quickly sticks to it. You can spray water onto it or pour a spoonful of water and stir the sand.


Step 4: Add 1 tablespoon of colored chalk or paint powder into the bag. Start with this amount first, and then mix it into the sand. You can add more colored chalk onto the bag later on to darken the sand’s color. You can also buy paint powder or colored chalk in arts and crafts stores.

If you choose to use colored chalk, make sure to grind it before adding it to the sand. You can do this by using sandpaper, a craft blade, or a food grater.


Step 5: Seal the bag tightly and shake the sand well. Like with the previous way to color sand, thoroughly massage the sand and paint powder to ensure that they mix well.


Step 6: Once you’re done mixing the sand, put it on a flat surface, plate, or baking sheet and let it dry for a couple of hours. Then, you’re all done!



Both kids and adults will definitely enjoy playing with colored sand in a sandbox. You can choose either of the three ways mentioned above, and you’ll successfully get colored sand. Whether it’s in your backyard or inside your house, playing with sand will surely lighten up everyone’s mood and improve each other’s planning and organizational skills.

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