Decorated sand cement

Process art with sand and nature items

Community Playthings | July 2023

Children find and make art everywhere. Transience is the ultimate aspect of process art but sometimes you want to take time to admire the creativity before it is destroyed. Like the carefully decorated sand cakes our three-year-olds create, and then flatten in one flying leap. 

Here is a unique art medium for children to explore. You can create “sand-cement” right in the sandpit and preserve some of those awesome sand cake decorating skills. From mixing to decorating, our sand artists thoroughly enjoyed this activity. An important part of the process is collecting the natural items to press into the sand cake. Children love to experiment with handprints or fingerprints, so keep the process free and open for creativity and new ideas. It's a beautifully natural journey full of varying textures and sensory experiences. 

Helpful hints:

bowl and spoon

We found most of these things in our outdoor sand area:

  • Bowls and spoons
  • Old containers—lids work best
  • Glue 
  • Small nature items 
  • Sand 

glue and sand

We put some sand in a bowl, and poured in glue, adding and stirring until the mixture clumped together.

moulding sand

We pressed the sand mixture into container lids. We brushed a little oil into the deeper containers first to make sure the finished product popped out when dry.


Every child found different nature objects to poke into the “cement” while it was still soft. We had some pine cones, pebbles and sunflower seeds saved from last autumn!

completing decorating

It was key to push the objects into the sand mixture firmly. Some poked a small hole through the sand while it was still soft to create a place for a string to hang it as an ornament later. 

popping out of moulds

After a day in the sun, our “sand creations” were dry and hard. They popped right out of the moulds. 

finished product

I wonder what would happen if we had put the decorations into the container first?


Outdoor and nature, Projects & Activities, Arts & Design
Ideas & How-To