So you’ve researched and scoured the Internet looking for the EXACT size of tray that you need..
..but you’ve come up empty-handed, and maybe a bit more confused than you were to start (I HATE it when that happens – like when a hangnail turns into finger cancer thankyouverymuch WebMD).
I’m here to save the day!
With this post, you’re going to get the down and dirty details about what you need (or don’t) in your sandtray.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Question #1: What size should my tray be?
Answer: In short, whatever you would like. However, I’m here to tell you that some sizes just plain work better than others in general. *Sidenote: I’m a sandtray therapist (not sandplay) so I have much more leeway with the size of my tray*
What I’ve found that works:
For most trays, I like for my trays to be 3.5 inches deep by 20 inches wide. My general, go-to trays look like this (I’ve included a Diet Coke can for reference – if you’re anything like me, measurements and directions leave me dumbfounded, I need REFERENCES people).
The 3.5 inch tray:
I have attempted to have the tray not so deep and it did not turn out well.
Here’s one of my trays that is only 2.5 inches deep.
Pro tip: The “messier” the sand – like kinetic sand – the deeper you are going to want your tray. My kinetic sand constantly gets all over my floor, which leads me to almost constant frustration.
Even given the constant clean-up, I still would never take the kinetic sand out of the sandtray room, especially while I’m working with children. Adults hate the stuff – won’t even go near it.
Question #2 Does my tray have to be wooden?
Nope. Lucky for all of us, the power of sandtray therapy isn’t reliant upon the exact materials being just right.
[Tweet “The power of sandtray lies in the relationship and the ability to work with the whole brain.”]
I like to have wooden trays because I think they look nicer and hold up better.
Also, the wood hearkens back to the 4 elements that Jungian therapists often refer to with sandplay work (air, water, earth, and fire)- with wood relating to the Earth elements.
Again, it’s nice to have but definitely not a must.
Here’s a plastic tray I have in my playroom. I used this for years and had just as powerful sessions as I do now with my nice wooden ones.
Question #3- Does the inside of the tray have to be blue?
Again, I hardly ever say YES to something like this, but it is preferable to have the inside blue for practical reasons. Often the kids want to make water, lakes, or oceans in the the tray.
Since I don’t allow the use of actual water in my trays (because it gets the sand nasty and takes forever to dry), kids will just use the bottom and the sides to make the bodies of water they requested.
Why do we have blue in the first place? Again, it goes back to the Jungian roots, where the blue represented the air and water elements.
Question #4- How can I use the tray when I travel to homes, schools, or places other than my office.
Honestly, there’s no “right way” to do this but there’s a hard way and a much easier way.
The hard way: To carry your plastic tray with you full of sand along with a rolling bag (if you’re lucky) full of your miniatures.
Obviously, this is not ideal but sometimes, we don’t know another way.
Again, good news – I have a better way. Over time, I’ve worked with a local woodworker and then my husband to create the ideal all-in-one travel sandtray system.
It’s on rollers and the tray actually is strapped onto the top part so you can easily lift the whole system up and into your car when you are finished.
The top of the tray hold sand and the lid fits snugly onto it so sand doesn’t spill all in your car or wherever you are working.
Also, I put my miniatures in the bottom part, along with any paperwork or anything else I need so it’s literally a one-stop-sandtray-shop.
Here’s a few more pictures so you can see how it works
Question #5 How can I get my tray to easily turn?
It’s always helpful for us as sandtray therapists to be able to see all parts of the tray in as much detail as possible. You never know when the client has put something in just the right place that you would miss it if you weren’t able to see it from all angles.
What do I do?
I use a Lazy-Susan underneath my sand tray. I bought a decent one at Bed, Bath and Beyond and it’s held up amazingly well over the years. I’ve never been afraid of the tray falling off and the Lazy-Susan stays in place unless I move it myself.
Here’s what the tray looks like when its turned a bit with the Lazy-Susan under it.
Question #6: What about a round tray?
If you like it, go for it. I had one built for me several years ago because I was planning to do a group therapy in the tray training, but it ends up getting used ALL THE TIME by my little clients.
Seriously ya’ll, I could just have a round tray full of kinetic sand and my littles would probably never leave my room.
Little ones are drawn more to the round tray because they live in their right brains much more than we do as adults. Right brains like circular items or non-standard, linear items. We left-brained adults in the Western world seem to love right angles and boxes.
If you work with adults, don’t worry so much about a round tray. Most of adults don’t use it.
However, it’s worth an investment if you are planning to work with littles for a long period of time.
Question #7: Is it sandtray or sand tray?
Here’s a guide:
If you’re using it as a noun, separate the words “sand” and “tray.”
You can see the graphic at the top of this post, you notice that the words are separated. Because I’m talking about the actual tray that you use in your practice, I use the two words (it’s a noun).
If you’re describing the type of therapy you do, such as “sandtray therapy” put the words “sand” and “tray” together.
Similar to how sandplay folks describe what they do as “sandplay therapy,” I do sandtray therapy.
Now you know!
And if you want even MORE of the sandtray goods, grab my FREE sandtray technique, The Jack-in-the-Box.
This technique is my get-out-of-jail-free technique in all of my sandtray sessions – grab yours now!