What’s an inexpensive alternative to craft sand?

Craft sand is a beautiful sensory material that always gets my creative juices flowing, but sometimes it just seems so expensive. Luckily, there is a super inexpensive alternative that you can do on your own. Colored Salt! You can buy 3 containers of salt for about $1.50 and in some places you can find chalk for only $1. So for $2.50, you can make some beautifully colored salt which works great as a substitute for craft sand.

Colored salt is a cheap alternative to craft sand. It's a great texture, pretty, and only needs two ingredients!

Making Colored Sand

What you Need

Crayola chalk is the best choice because the colors tend to be more vibrant than other chalks.

Any old salt will do. The cheaper the better!

Instructions

First, pour salt into sandwich bag. The more salt you pour, the more colored salt you’ll end up with. Fill your bags about 2/3 of the way full.

Next, choose one color of chalk and put it in the bag with the salt. Zip the top of the baggie securely. You’ll want to make sure there isn’t any extra air in the baggie; this will make the next step much easier.

Finally, use both hands and squish the bag around. This step takes the longest so get comfy. The salt will act kind of like sandpaper against the chalk and will distribute small bits of chalk (which also means small bits of color) throughout the salt.

Some of the colors (pink and yellow) started getting distributed right away. The blue took a bit of squishing before any color started getting distributed.

If you are using cheaper or less pigmented chalk it will probably take awhile before the color starts to show. But be patient because that color will show eventually.

How to Play

Now for the fun part. Use the colored salt for fun activities! Here are a few of my favorite ways to use colored salt or craft sand.

Salt Tray Designs

Pour salt into a pie tin and make fun designs with your finger. Or, you know, have your child make fun designs. 😉

Colored salt is a cheap alternative to craft sand. It's a great texture, pretty, and only needs two ingredients!

Salt Tray Letters

Practice writing letters in a pie tin filled with colored salt.

Colored salt is a cheap alternative to craft sand. It's a great texture, pretty, and only needs two ingredients!

Glue and Sprinkle

Use the salt for decorating the thin letters printables (or other creations). Cover the letter with some glue, then sprinkle with salt. The finished product is sparkly and easier to clean than glitter.

Colored salt is a cheap alternative to craft sand. It's a great texture, pretty, and only needs two ingredients!

Colored salt is a cheap alternative to craft sand. It's a great texture, pretty, and only needs two ingredients!

Sensory Bin

You could use colored salt as the base of a sensory bin (like I did in this post), or you could create a sensory bin with just colored salt and a few tools. It’s sure to be a hit with the kids either way.

Colored salt is a cheap alternative to craft sand. It's a great texture, pretty, and only needs two ingredients!

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