Sand Painting

Background Information:  Sand painting is a tradition in southwestern Native American tribes, the most famous of which were the Navajo.  The Navajo people used sand painting as a way to heal someone and take away an illness.  Once the healing ceremonies concluded, the sand painting was typically destroyed in hopes that the illness would be also.  Sand paintings now can be purchased as art works in remembrance of the tradition.

Supplies Needed:

  • Empty jars or bowls
  • Colored sand
  • Cardstock paper
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Plastic spoons
  • Wax paper
  • Hairspray


1. Draw a picture on your paper with pencil.

2. Pour colored sand into an empty container.

3. Begin sand painting!  Put an even layer of glue on the paper, working one small section at a time, and pour some colored sand onto the glue using a plastic spoon.

4. Repeat until your painting is done.

5. Once the glue has dried, spray hairspray over the top to seal it.

OPTIONAL: To be more authentic sand painters, you can also mix sand with powdered tempera paint rather than use colored sand.  Choose a color of powdered tempera paint and add just a little to the dry sand.  For more vibrant colors, add more tempera.  Mix together with a craft stick.


Questions for Discussion:

1. What did you illustrate?  Why?
2. What are some of the traditions that your family has?
3. What is your favorite way to create art?