How to Glue Sand Castles

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Bring home a bit of the seaside's magic and encourage children's natural creativity by helping them build sand castles with glue, water and cardboard. While the glue makes the structure last, you'll need a framework for your fortress, which is where the cardboard comes in. Alternatively, mold and sculpt sand castles using a sensory-friendly sand clay made of sand, cornstarch and glue.

Cardboard-Based Sand Castle

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard
  • Sand
  • School Glue
  • Paintbrush

Tip

  • School glue dries clear and is nontoxic. For best results, use craft sand or fine, clean beach or play sand. Select paintbrushes that are easy for the kids to hold, such as jumbo handled ones for preschoolers. Use paintbrushes with fat tips for slathering on the wet sand mixture.

Build the Framework

Assemble the sand castle's armature with a cardboard box and pieces from cardboard items. A shoe box with cut-out windows and door might provide the main structure. Create turrets by cutting a row of squares in the lip of the lid; place the lid on the box upside down, adhering it with glue. The upside-down lid provides a base for adding towers.

For the towers, glue empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls on top of the main structure. To create tower tops in the classic castle shape of upside down ice-cream cones:

  1. Cut one disc from cardboard for each conical top.
  2. Snip the disc from the outside to the center.
  3. Fold each into a cone large enough to fit snugly over the top of the tower. 
  4. Place the cones over the tower tops. 

Tip

  • Add flags to the towers, made with triangles cut from thin cardboard, such as colorful sections of a tissue or cereal box. Or use wide ribbon for flags that flutter in the breeze of an open window. Glue these to flag poles made of cotton swabs or toothpicks. Insert the sticks into the top of the cones before adding the sand mixture.

Mix Sand and Glue

While the structure's glue dries, mix sand and school glue in a bowl. The consistency should be similar to a thick paint -- thin enough to brush on the castle, but not so thin it drips off. For that sparkling-in-the-sun look, sprinkle a pinch of silver or gold glitter into the sand.

Plaster the Castle With the Sand Mixture

Paint the castle with the sand-and-glue mixture. Allow it to dry, and cover it with another coat, continuing this process until it looks like a sand castle. Before the final application dries, you may want to add decorative items, such as small shells. These should stick to the wet glue-sand.

Miniature Castle Made of Sand Clay

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup beach, play or craft sand 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup school glue
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Glitter (optional)

Create the Clay

Pour the sand into a bowl. Mix in the cornstarch. Add glue, mixing in with your fingers. Knead until you have a Play-Doh-like consistency. Add glue or cornstarch if it is too dry or too moist.

Create the Castle

Squish, shape and mold the sand clay into a miniature sand castle. Keep the castle tiny -- about 2 by 2 inches -- to avoid cracks during the drying process. Use modeling tools or kitchen utensils to create turrets and add designs that suggest the door and windows. Work with it as you would with Play-Doh. If the dough starts to dry, sprinkle in a little water.

Air-Dry or Bake

Set your sand castle on a paper plate and allow it to dry overnight. If the room is humid, bake it instead: set it in a small baking pan, such as a cake pan, and bake it in an oven preheated to 210 degrees F for two to three hours, or until hard.

Warning

  • Closely supervise young children who may put objects in their mouths or throw sand. Use nontoxic glue. Look for the Art and Creative Materials Institute seal to ensure safety of children's art products.

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