Sandcasting with plaster of paris

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When we were at the beach last week we did some sandcasting with plaster of paris. It’s not exactly a new idea. I had heard of it before then came across the idea again in my library copy of EcoArt and thought it would be a fun activity to have up my sleeve for when the kids got tired of the ocean. They never did (tire of the water), but they were willing to be lured away for a few minutes…

EcoArt BookHere’s the book by the way:

EcoArt: Earth Friendly Art and Craft Experiences for 3- to 9-Year Olds by Laurie Winn Carlson


First we dug holes in the sand and the kids lined the bottom with seashells.


Then we mixed the plaster of paris according to the package directions (2 parts plaster to 1 part water) into a throwaway plastic container. A milk jug would work well. Here Henry is measuring out the water while Maia watches.


Then we poured the plaster over the shells in the holes and smoothed the top a bit.


The kids disappeared back to their water play while the plaster casts hardened — it takes about half an hour. Henry’s sister Lucie is trying to make off with the (heavy) bucket of plaster above.


A brief foray back to lift up the hardened plaster shapes and inspect their handiwork…


And the finished pieces after some of the excess sand has been brushed away. We haven’t made a summer nature table yet, and I’m thinking of a beach-themed one with a couple of these and some sculpey nature prints we made from shells and seaside vegetation, etc. By the way, you could also do this in your backyard sandbox or in a shoebox full of sand. And you can put just about anything in — I’ve heard of using beads, marbles, nature items, and handprints to name just a few.

See how we used our plaster beach mementos in our beach-themed nature table.

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  1. says

    Thanks for the step-by-step. I know this idea has been around for ages. A friend had a version of this in her home that her kids created at summer camp, and it sparked my idea to do it with my 3 yr old. Love your blog!!! I get so much inspiration from you!

  2. says

    Thank you for this fun idea! I don’t have children but I’m a crafty type and can’t tell you how much I’ve been enjoying reading all your ideas. I may just do this activity myself next time at the beach ~ I certainly have collected the seashells ~ LOL

  3. says

    Love how yours turned out. I have been thinking it would be fun to make these at different beaches. The beach we were visiting last week has very white fine sand, but the beaches closer to our house have different colors and textures. Would make a great little collection and I love your idea for using these on your nature table.

  4. says

    Wow, these are pretty amazing. I’m thinking my 2 year old would enjoy this simply for sake of the sand texture and shells. Quite beautiful creations too.

  5. Jill says

    We grew up at a summer house on the beach and my mother would do the same type of sandcastings with us as children – now with her grandchildren. Once the plater set, she would stick a paper clip on the back so the final piece could be hung. When we were older, we would make sea creatures and they would hang around the house.

  6. [email protected] says

    We made these when I was in third grade–I can still picture making it and have always thought of doing it with my kids–so now I have the directions–THANK YOU so much!! I remember I put a blue marble in mine– and the teacher said I was creative–which true be told I am not but I remeber how it made me feel good and how proud I was of that project–I hung it on my wall–but it fell and broke