11 Sandtray Therapy Hacks

Let me guess.

You have a sandtray miniature addiction and are always on the look out for new and better ways to set up or add to your ever-growing collection.

Good news! I’m not here to help you recover but to help you further your addiction in new and creative ways:)

Hack #1 Get white shelves.

I learned this the hard way.  I have both tan and dark shelves. While the dark ones are nice, I find myself constantly frustrated with cleaning off the sand from the shelves. The shelves will be all nice and clean and after one session- BAM it’s back to looking like a desert storm came through my office.

I just bought new shelves- they are all white and am pumped that I won’t have this problem in the future.


Hack #2 Baskets are your friend

If you work with kids, baskets are a must. Little ones often want LOTS of things in their trays and will dump whatever is available in the tray. After they unload the shelves into your tray, you are likely to have a mess that will be difficult to sort through and put back correctly.

Easy solution for me is to just have baskets for different categories, like one for army men, one for plastic trees, one for jewels, etc. Speaking of jewels..

Hack #3 Use broken jewelry

I am a sucker for cheap fashion jewelry. Unfortunately, the jewelry breaks.  My husband is the one who suggested I use the beads or stones in my miniature collection.  I have a wide assortment now and they get used to represent a variety of things- from parties to water.


Hack #4 Don’t worry about separating your rocks and jewels

When I first began to do sandtray, I was very diligent about keeping the blue jewels with the blue and the red jewels with the red and so forth. Cut to them all being dumped together in a tray with only 5 minutes between sessions.

I just scooped them up and put them together.  Know what? Clients picked out what they needed without me sorting them myself.

Hack #5 Funnels and sand toys

If you work with children at all, you need funnels and buckets. I bought the funnels at the local dollar store. Buckets and rakes I grabbed during the summer season at a local dollar store as well.  These get used ALL THE TIME with my kids.

Even if you don’t work with little ones but work with older kids, I would still invest in them for those children whose emotional age does not match their chronological age.


Hack #5 Strainers

Strainers are a must have when working with little ones. They love to shift it and move the sand around with the funnels. Get them cheap anywhere.

Hack #6 Use similar sand colors

If using two different types of sand, use the same color theme.  Black sand is very cool looking but bad things happen when it’s mixed.

You think you have a tray of white sand? Get even a bit black in it and all of the sudden you have a tray white AND black sand. No bueno.

Hack #7 Holiday seasons

Always, always, always swing through your local dollar store around any holiday season.

Halloween is great for death themes and of course there are lots of houses, people, and trees on the shelves around this time of year.


Hack #8 Party supplies

I always pursue down the aisles of the local party supply store. I found some awesome barbed wire that was actually streamers for a cowboy party. Cake toppers get used a TON and are super cheap.

Hack #9 Candles

When I trained under Theresa Kestly in New Mexico, she had a variety of actual candles in her collection.  Because I work with kids so much, I substitute the actual candle for the LED version, which works just as well.

Clients use these in all kinds of creative ways and are a cheap but powerful addition to any sandtray collection.

Hack #10 Never stop looking

My friends often tease me about having a knack for finding miniatures in the oddest places.  You can do this too, you just have to keep your eye out for anything that can be used in your world.

My nail tech gave this to me a few months ago since she wasn’t using it.  My kids use it ALL THE TIME and IT WAS FREE. Double score.


Hack #11 Travel souvenirs

I recently went on a trip to Central American and hit the jackpot for miniatures from the souvenir shop. I nabbed a variety of miniatures I would not have been able to to find anywhere.

The guy checking me out looked at me like I was crazy but I was like “Keep looking buddy, this stuff is all MINE.”



These are just a few that came to mind as I was writing this post but I’m always up for new, creative ways to expand my addiction.

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