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The Corner Toolkit  >  Themed activities  >  The Corner goes Strait Home  >  Explore  >  Sand stories

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Sand stories


Children will use sand to make sand castles and tell stories, to improve their literacy skills. The activity will encourage children to make connections between the words they can say and the way words and stories are represented by pictures and letters in books.

Rationale sand story

Torres Strait Islander culture is maintained and shared through song, dance and oral storytelling. To assist with oral storytelling, Torres Strait Islander people sometimes draw symbols and story elements in the sand.  The activity is inspired by this cultural tradition and invites children to create their own sand stories, whether on holidays at the beach or in the sandpit at home. As an activity, the focus is on playing in the sand and describing what is taking place. The hidden learning comes from combining oral with visual and symbolic modes of representation, a skill which forms the foundation of literacy.

Key concepts

Stories can be told through spoken word, pictures, symbols and written words.

Key language

Will depend on the content of the story however, who, what, when, where, why and how might be common in the strategic questions you ask.


Found objects such as sticks, shells, rocks, etc

Activity steps

Step 1: Getting started

You can start this activity simply by playing in the sand with your child. Talk about what they are doing and describe the shapes they are making.


Step 2: Storytelling

Start by retelling something that has happened recently. For instance: what you did yesterday or even what you had for breakfast this morning! (Even though you might start with a real event, let the story evolve into the imaginary).

You could also retell a favourite story or even a nursery rhyme. For example: Miss Polly, Old Macdonald, or The Grand Old Duke of York. If you have some small toys (or a stick and a good imagination) you can create your scene out of sand and then act out your story the way you would if it was a doll house or a train set.

Strategic Questions

Step 2: Creating your story

Now it’s your turn to create your own sand drawing and story! Remember, the beach is big so you can keep adding more story elements and moving up the beach as your story grows.

Here is an example story! Tommy Turtle went camping up a mountain with his friend Giant Giraffe. They put the tent up as the moon was rising. The next day, the sun rose and they could see the ocean. They decided to go to the beach and played a game of catch.


Tommy Turtle and Giant Giraffe Tommy Turtle and Giant Giraffe
Tommy Turtle and Giant Giraffe Tommy Turtle and Giant Giraffe


Digital sand play

To find out more information, check out these links.

Sand techniques



Last updated: 8th July 2013

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