Pirate Treasure Islands: Real Sand Art (June 2013)

DSCF5865 LD detail adjThis pirate treasure island is made from real sand – real coral sand from a real tropical island! About three years ago, one of the children in my class gave me a small bag of sand when she came back from a family holiday in the Maldives. The sand remained in my art supplies cupboard for three years, until I finally came up with this end-of-term project for my young artists aged between three and six.

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The first task for the children was to draw waves on a sheet on blue paper using white and blue oil pastels.

Then I asked them to draw the humped shape of an island in the bottom half of the paper. The children enjoyed daubing lots of white glue on the paper to make sure that their island was evenly and thoroughly coated and the sand would stick on properly.

Next, the fun bit! Each child placed their paper on a plastic tray and sprinkled handfuls of sand over the wet glue. I helped them to lift and tip the paper so that the excess sand fell into the tray. It was exciting to see the sand stick to the glue, instantly creating a coral island – as if by magic!

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Now it was time to add some palm trees. I gave the children brown and green paper scraps, and a variety of craft scissors (the ones that cut with wavy, zig-zag and scalloped edges). I asked them to tear brown paper strips for the tree trunks, and use the craft scissors to cut long leaf shapes from the green paper.

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It was tricky sticking the palm trees on top of the sandy surface, and lots of white glue was needed, but by the time the pictures were dry everything had adhered quite well.

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The final task was to leave some evidence of pirate shenanigans! The children cut and folded small rectangles of brown paper to create treasure chests that open, revealing “pieces of eight” inside, drawn with gold and silver markers. They also drew with white pencil on black paper to create ‘Jolly Roger’ flags with a skull and cross bones or crossed swords. A couple of kids even had the fantastic idea of drawing in the sand with their fingers – just as they would on a real beach!

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Avast ye, hearties! This be the finest pirate booty I ever laid eyes on…


  1. Yay! Now I know what to do with the bag of sand that my daughter has kept in her room for a couple of years. She collected that sand a while ago with the idea of doing something creative with it one day.
    This project is a lot of fun. The solution for the treasure chest is so creative. Thanks, Hannah, for another inspiring project! 🙂

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