Here’s one of those great ideas that came from someone else. Simply put, these are pictures hidden by sand. A teacher I shared a classroom with on alternate days came up with this idea that 1) used up some of the mixed craft sand that was sitting around in the supply room, 2) let the kids play with hiding and finding, and 3) let the kids practice fine motor skills with a variety of tools.
We have several biomedical firms in town and they leave these huge stacks of plastic trays at the recycling center. They are incredibly useful, and since they’re free we don’t have to worry too much about keeping them nice. The trays are over an inch deep and are clear, so there are all kinds of possibilities with them. In this case, my co-worker cut some magazine pictures out and taped them to the bottom of the trays. Then she put just enough colored sand in the trays to cover the art and place a variety of instruments (paint brushes, feathers, sponges, etc.) around to use for moving the sand. I’m sure you can guess that other instruments were brought from all over the room to try, but that’s part of the fun (yes, that’s a toilet paper roll in the bottom picture). We put the trays in the sensory table to minimize escaped sand, but you can just as easily keep these on a table if you think your kids will keep them upright and not get too crazy with the paint brushes.
If I were making this myself I might take some pictures of the kids in the room or their parents to use as the picture to find. You could also use other things to hide the pictures, such as plain sand or rice. What I like about this little project is that it can be done entirely with recycled materials (with the exception of the tape or glue you use) and costs pretty much nothing. Free is good, people!