Underwater Glitter Sand Sensory Tray

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By In The Playroom

I’m always interested in trying out different sensory play activities with the boys, even something very simple can grab their attention and provide an opportunity to explore something new. To find out more about why sensory play is important you can read my previous post and also get some ideas for lots more materials to use.

We made this glitter sand sensory tray from the contents of a glitter sensory bottle that we had made previously and had finished using. I’ll share the bottle here soon too. It was pretty but because of the shape of the bottle I felt that the contents were obscured a bit and that the boys would benefit more from having it out on a tray to touch and play with up close. Once we poured out the contents it created this very cool underwater glitter sand effect.

Underwater glitter sand sensory tray - calming and relaxing and can be used for fine motor activities and mark making too. Found on https://intheplayroom.co.uk

The contents of the bottle had been made with a mixture of the following (affiliate links included for your convenience)

Because of the way the water mixes with the glitter paint, it creates a sand like effect in the tray. The glitter from within the glitter paint is very fine, as you can see in the pictures the grains of gold glitter are much tinier than the larger flecks of red. The water dilutes the paint so much that the glitter separates and sinks to the bottom of the tray, and hands will not get marked with paint at all when handling the mixture as it is so dilute.

glittersand sensory bin

We played with this in a glass tray. The pictures can’t really capture it perfectly, but it creates a really pretty effect. This is a very relaxing and calming sensory tray to explore, unlike some of the bigger sensory bins we have made which include vehicles or play people, this one is really just about exploring the materials.

This tray is all about the texture and the visuals. The sensation of the “glitter sand” swirling around under the layer of water is quite different to just plain water, and we used the layer of “glitter sand” for mark making too. Once you have written, you can swish it all around and let it settle then you’re okay to write on it again. In the picture below we were practising Arabic letters. Although it’s not super clear, this is Mr Z’s name.

mark making arabic letters in glitter sand sensory tray

There’s also a fine motor play opportunity as the children seek out and collect the shaped sequins from within the tray. Mr T was keen to find and sort them into categories, collecting all the leaves and all the circles.


Mr R enjoyed splashing his hands in the tray and found it interesting to see that the tray is so colourful and shiny, but when he lifts his hands up it’s just plain water – the glitter does not transfer much because it’s almost in two separate layers. The boys also enjoyed adding a few extra loose parts to the tray, like pipe cleaners which can also be used as a pen for mark making rather than writing directly with their fingers if children prefer.


The clean up after this activity was very minimal. As I mentioned, the paint is nowhere near concentrated enough to mark anything and all the children will have on their hands at the end is plain water, so we just poured it away when we were done. We could have placed it all back in the sensory bottle to use another time but Mr R had splashed quite a bit by the end of the play session.

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Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.

33 thoughts on “Underwater Glitter Sand Sensory Tray”

  1. I would never have thought of doing this with my grandchildren. I do not think children do enough hands on activities these days. I will suggest it to my young ones and hopefully we will have a go.

  2. Awesome. A few of my students have sensory difficulties but I think the girls would be willing to stick their hands into this because they LOVE glitter!

  3. What a fantastic sensory creative play idea! Love this. Buba and Missy Moo would be in pure heaven with this kind of activity. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Love all the action photos too! #sharewithme

  4. Oh my daughter would LOVE this! As I was reading I kept wondering how much glitter would end up all over her hands and everywhere else but as I read on it appears that’s not a worry! Pinning!

  5. What a brilliant and creative sensory activity! The underwater glitter sand sensory tray looks so captivating and fun for the kids. I love how it encourages exploration, fine motor skills, and imaginative play. Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea!


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