For me, Sand Play is a newer addition to my practice and I love it! While I could write loads about this therapeutic modality, this post will focus on finding a sand table that works for you and your practice.
What Do You Have Room For?
An obvious question, but an important one! Your space will offer limitations. If you travel for sessions, you may wish to look into a portable sand tray. Maybe a tray with a lid that can be shelved when not in use would be best for you. Or perhaps sand table with a lid that doubles as a regular table suits your needs. Worth keeping in mind is whether water will be added to the box and therefore needs to be waterproof.
Money, Money, Money!
What budget do you have for sand play supplies? Do you want to go with a professional model or something less expensive? For my practice, I had a specific goal in mind: a sand tray with a lid and handles (for easy lifting) that rests on a rolling table. I like the flexibility of being able to move the tray onto the floor or keep it at table height. While I was willing to pay for a pre-fabricated “therapy grade” model, I was able to get mine made for free. My father’s friend teaches carpentry and the class made my table and tray as projects. I did give some gift certificates as a thank you; spending significantly less than if I bought it new. Plastic storage bins with lids also make fantastic sand trays. These are portable, easy to use on the floor, or can be placed upon a table.
Toys for Sand
You can purchase miniatures and figurines specifically marketed for use in sand play. You can also use anything that you wish! These include action figures, shovels, containers, rocks, seashells, mini rakes, or anything else. As long as you are comfortable with it going in sand, it can be a sand toy.
As I prepared for my sand tray, I thought that one bag of play sand was like the other—I was wrong. Through a bit a research, I play sand may contain a carcinogen (and is often labeled accordingly when purchased in the US) due to the silica content: studies show individuals exposed to silicia in their work (such as the construction trade) may develop lung cancer. The manufacturing process, some argue, makes it possible for the silica particles in play sand to be more easily inhaled than beach sand. I decided to look for an alternative, erring on the side of caution. I settled on sand made from feldspar, which is pricier than regular play sand. Some people eschew sand, choosing to use pea gravel, dried rice or beans, et cetera. However, I really like the physical properties of sand, especially the ability to mold it with some water and build mounds.
I hope that reading this article has gotten you to think about sand play! Also, it does not have to be limited to children—maybe your older clients (and yourself) would like a mini “zen garden” tray to access during sessions?
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA