In this investigation, students explore sand. They compare beach sand to sand from their neighborhood. If beach sand is not available, use the pictures from the student version or others from this

website. (Don’t bother trying to e-mail Jane for a sample of Rhode Island beach sand. She isn’t working there anymore.) Make your own beach sand by mixing sandbox sand with whole and crushed shells from a craft store.


For the local samples, use sandbox sand, play sand, art sand, sand from a creek, stream, riverbed or the backyard. What you use is up to you. The idea is to give your students the opportunity to compare sand samples from the ocean to other sand samples.


You can talk about the rock cycle. You can talk about ocean living things. If you have a bunch of sand, you can use a Venn diagram to sort living from non-living things and things in between. You can mount sand samples on a U.S., world or local map and ask students to match their sand samples to their point of origins. You can talk about what your neighborhood might have been like in Earth’s distant past. You can start a class sand collection or take pictures of the sand samples and build a class sand page. The depth you go into and the direction you take is up to you.


Use the questions and procedure from the student version of this investigation as a startng point for your classroom exploration of sand.


Here’s a Sand Lab Booklet to help your students learn more about sand. This is for older students.


You will need:

For the Fantasy Sand Extension, you will need:


Younger students could be asked to draw a picture of or write a story about their dream beach. Older students could be asked to explain why their fantasy sand looks the way it does, how it formed, why is has or doesn’t have pieces of shells or evidence of other living things mixed in with the bits of rocks, and what kinds of rocks were broken up and worn down to make their fantasy sand. You might want to have the students use some of their fantasy sand to make Ocean Sand Globes. The Ocean Sand Globes investigation is part of the ESSEA K-4 Ocean Water Sample Investigations.