Zany Zen Garden

Turn an ordinary tray of sand into a beautiful desk-top garden for mediation.  With just a few household items and a small tray, create your own place to rest, relax and play.

What You Need:  

  • Sand  
  • Shallow container or tray 
  • Fork  
  • Rocks, shells, small toys, flowers, etc.  

What You Do:  

  1. Add a thick layer of sand to the bottom of a container.  
  2. Use a fork to gently draw patterns in the sand.  Spirals and swirls are a creative way to create patterns. The lines might look like a ripple in water. When you’re done, simply clear the sand and start over. 
  3. Try to relax and not think as you are drawing the lines in the sand.  
  4. Add stones, shells, flowers and other small toys to your Zen garden. 
  5. Wipe away the garden daily or weekly and redesign the space as an act of meditation. 

Words to Use:  

  • Zen: Total state of focus in the mind and body.  
  • Meditation: The practice of emptying your mind of thoughts and feelings 
  • Pattern: A regularly repeated arrangement of shapes, colors, or lines on a surface.  

What to Talk About:  

  • What do you notice when you draw with different tools?   
  • How does your mind feel when you create patterns in the sand? 
  • Describe your garden. 

Change It Up:  

  • Put your Zen garden in a jar and put it up for display. 
  • Collaborate on the Zen garden as a family. Let each family member contribute. 
  • Take a deep breath in and on your exhale, try and draw out what you think your breath would look like in the sand.  
  • Create a life-size Zen garden in the sand box or at a beach.  Use a garden rake or sticks to draw your lines in the sand.  
  • Use colored sand.  Make your own by using epsom salt, a Ziploc bag and food coloring.  Add food coloring to epsom salt in a Ziploc bag.  Squish the salt so that it crumbles and absorbs the food coloring.  Open the bag and let the salt/sand dry out.  
  • Add glitter to your Zen garden for some extra flair.  

Learning Connections:  

  • Creativity  
  • Imagination  
  • Visual-Spatial Thinking  
  • Connecting with Nature 
  • Using Tools  

Curriculum Connections:  

  • Visual Arts: K.V.1.2, K.V.2.3, K.V.3.2, K.V.3.3, 1.V.1.2, 1.V.2.1, 1.V.2.3, 1.V.3.1, 1.V.3.2, 1.V.3.3., 2.V.1.2, 2.V.1.2.1, 2.V.2.3, 2.V.3.1, 2.V.3.3, 3.V.1.2, 3.V.2.1, 3.V.2.2, 3.V.2.3

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