Sand tray options are endless! So many options exist, it can be overwhelming to choose the best tray to suit your needs. You’ll need to choose a tray or trays, sand, figures and of course, a method for displaying miniatures.
Dora Kalff, the mother of sandPLAY, suggested the sand tray be wooden, 19.5 inches x 28.5 inches x 2.75 inches in size, and painted blue on the bottom and sides. The primary rationale for this size is the dimensions create a large enough space for dynamic processing and small enough to be viewed without moving the head side to side.
Traditional sandPLAY therapists also recommend two trays: one dry and one wet. While these dimensions are indeed ideal, most clinicians do not work in ideal settings so accommodations are necessary.
In lieu of a wet tray, consider kinesthetic sand or moon sand in an earth color with simulates wet, beach sand. While this does not have the dynamic quality of wet and dry sand within the same tray or provide the opportunity for ‘flooding’ the tray, it is a suitable substitute, especially for children.
Type of trays
Standard size, wooden (lid or no lid)
Standard size, molded plastic or rubber (lid or no lid)
Smaller travel sizes (usually with lids)
Octagonal (usually with lid)
Round (usually no lid)
Collapsible, travel blow-up tray
Other creative methods
Planter drain trays
Converted coffee tables
Toddler sand tables
Seriously, the options are endless!
What about the sand??
There is much debate regarding which sand is the “best” choice. Some clinicians prefer white silica sand while others prefer color sand. In the end, choose sand based on theoretical orientation and personal preference.
Adults tend to prefer white or earth tones, while children will utilize nearly any sand. For debate purposes, I prefer soft, white silica sand with a slight sheen. The brand I use is Jurassic Sand but this is just what I like. I recommend experimenting with different sands and buying smaller quantities until you find the one you like best.
Investing in sandtray therapy is expensive! Be a good steward or your items to increase their life and reduce germs, waste, and breakage. It is okay to ask clients to wash hands before using the sand or figures. Keep sanitizer on hand! Also, replace or add sand annually as needed.