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Clay Sandcastles

Clay Sandcastles
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Children will develop their sculpture techniques and creativity by molding and decorating their own clay sand castles.

By Christina Eosco [Christina is the Arts and Crafts co-director at Sharon Country Day Camp (Sharon, Massachusetts, USA) and an ECE graduate student at Boston University.]


Children will have an opportunity to observe pictures and models of castles and reflect on the architectural characteristics that contribute to their aesthetic.

What You Need:

  • Pictures and/or models of real castles and sandcastles (the decorative sand castles sold at Hallmark are ideal)
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Self-hardening clay such as Crayola® Model Magic
  • Modeling tools, i.e. Popsicle sticks, plastic utensils, toothpicks, clay tools, etc.
  • Liquid tempera and/or acrylic paint
  • Containers and brushes for the paint
  • Fine sand of various colors. Colored sand can be store-bought or made by shaking powdered tempera with neutral colored sand. Sparkly sand can be made by mixing sand with glitter
  • Large trays to hold and spread out the sand
  • Decorative items-sequins, sparkles, beads, shells, pebbles, etc.

What You Do:

  1. Allow at least 5 minutes for children to explore and talk about the pictures and models of sandcastles. In the large group, ask children, “What makes them interesting? Realistic? Fantastical?” Have children talk about the different parts of the castle’s architecture and design, too-i.e. turrets, towers, moats, drawbridges, flags, etc. The teacher can list children’s observations on chart paper as a resource.
  2. Children use the clay to sculpt or build a castle. Children can either build the castle from one larger piece of clay or create individual sections to assemble later. (The latter will also impede the castle’s being damaged/squished in step 3.) The teacher can model different sculpting techniques ahead of time or within the lesson, such as using sides of toothpicks to impress lines in the clay.
  3. When the sculpting is finished, roll the castle or pat the flat sides into sand.
  4. Children add other objects to decorate their castle. (Flags can be made with toothpicks and small pieces of construction paper.)
  5. Allow clay to harden overnight.
  6. Optional: Paint unsanded areas of the clay to add color.


Arcade -Row of arches, free-standing and supported on piers or columns.
Capital -Distinctly treated upper end of a column.
Column -Pillar (circular section).
Drawbridge -A heavy timber platform built to span a moat between a gate house and surrounding land that could be raised when required to block an entrance.
Dungeon -The jail, usually found in one of the towers.
Moat -A deep trench usually filled with water that surrounded a castle.
Moulding -Masonry decoration; long, narrow, casts strong shadows.
Rampart – Defensive stone or earth wall surrounding castle.
Turret -Small tower, round or polygonal; usually a lookout.
Wicket -Person-sized door set into the main gate door.

More Information:

Castles on the Web

Castles of Britain

Oggins, R. S. (1995). Castles and fortresses. New York, NY : Metrobooks. Discusses the history and evolution of the castle. Includes many full-page color photographs.

Simó, C., Wells, K., & Wells, M. (1980). Sandtiquity. New York : Taplinger Pub. Co. Clear instructions and step-by-step color photos make it easy to achieve incredible results for building architectural marvels at the beach. 200 color photos.

Somerset Fry, P. & Lyons, D. (1997). Castles of Britain and Ireland. Abbeville Press, Inc. The ultimate reference book on the castles of Britain and Ireland. Covers every kind of castle and every aspect of their construction, weaponry, maintenance, and social life. Illustrated with 200 color photographs and specially commissioned artworks. Includes a comprehensive region-by-region guide to over 1,350 castles.

Here’s a detailed video with instructions that would work well for older kids.

Image: Rachel’s Minis


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