Outdoor Process Art for Kids Using Colored Salt

We were inspired to create this salt art activity for kids after a recent visit to our local museum where an amazing salt installment by Motoi Yamamoto was on display! This cool process art project is so easy to set up and provides hours of creativity for children!

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Such a fun idea! Kids create their own art outside using colored salt! (Salt Art for Kids- BuggyandBuddy.com)

*This article was originally posted on July 15, 2013 and has since been updated.

A recent trip to our local art museum has inspired such a fun art project for kids…using salt! Keep reading to find out what we made and to learn more about the amazing artist, Motoi Yamaoto.

“Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory.  Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.” – Motoi Yamamoto

Seeing the Works of Motoi Yamamoto

My five year old, Lucy, and I just recently went to our local art museum to see their latest exhibit, “Return to the Sea”, Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto. I can’t even fully describe what an amazing thing his art was to see.

Salt Art by Motoi Yamamoto


Motoi is a contemporary Japanese artist who has recently been creating installations made entirely from salt. In the Japanese culture, salt is a symbol of purification and mourning. Working with salt has helped Motoi work through the death of his sister and help to heal his grief.

Salt Art by Motoi Yamamoto


This particular piece covered almost the entire gallery floor and used about 300 pounds of salt! The patterns of this installation was very lace-like. In a video shown at the museum, the artist explains that each little bubble-like shape in the lace pattern represents a small memory, and all the little memories come together to form the finished piece.

As amazing as this art is in itself, what even touched me more was how he involves the communities where he displays his saltworks. While the artist is creating his installation, the public is invited to watch and interact with him.  And, during the closing of the exhibition, visitors are invited to participate in the dismantling of the salt artwork. They help to scoop the salt up into bags and bottles and then take a community walk to the sea where the salt is released into the ocean. We cannot wait to take part in this! This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon.

Creating Our Own Salt Art

Materials for Creating Outdoor Salt Art for Kids

How to Create Art with Salt

We were very inspired to begin making our own creations with salt once we were home. Because the sensory experience is so important to the artist, I first started out with a salt sensory tray invitation for the kids. They spent lots of time exploring the salt in our regular and mini sized salt trays.

A few days later we were ready to start our own salt art on a larger scale! We really wanted to try to draw with salt just like the artist. Luckily I had a couple of squeeze bottles on hand. We filled them with salt and found the biggest canvas we could~ our porch! We all headed outside and began to ‘draw’ with the salt-filled bottles. It was actually quite calming moving the bottles around as the salt slowly poured out.

Lucy began by drawing curvy lines with the salt.

salt art for kids


I drew lines on our porch with salt.

outdoor salt art for kids


Even my two-year old participated! He loved making little piles of salt!

creating salt art on an outdoor surface


Later we thought it would be fun to try drawing with colored salt. To make our colored salt, we filled some plastic cups with salt and added a few drops of food coloring to each one. It took quite a bit of stirring to get the color to distribute evenly. We then let it dry overnight.

using colored salt to create art


The next day we filled our squeeze bottles with the colored salt. It was a bit more difficult drawing with it, as it didn’t flow quite as smoothly as the plain, white salt. However, with a bit of patience, we still managed to create some colorful salt art! (You could probably do this using colored sand in place of the salt.)

Since we had sketched Yamamoto’s patterns in our sketchbook at the museum, we thought it would be fun to make our colored salt art similar to his.

Lucy and I worked together to create some colored salt art on the front porch.

Outdoor Salt Art for Kids

Here’s a closeup of the patterns we created.

Outdoor Salt Art for Kids- Buggy and Buddy

We were having so much fun we had to try a few other canvases! Creating salt art on our wooden deck created an interesting effect.
Salt Art for Kids

If you’d rather try something on a smaller scale, drawing with salt would make a great invitation to create! All you need is a tray (like this one) and a container of salt. I left this out one morning for the kids to create with.

An Invitation to Create with Salt

Learning about the art and inspiration of Motoi Yamamoto has been an amazing experience. Lucy was especially taken with how the artist used his artwork to express his emotions. I think she will remember this for quite a long time!

Learn More about Motoi Yamamoto

I would like to invite you to take a moment  and check out the links below to learn more about this amazing artist. I hope you find some inspiration from him as well!

Here are some amazing sites with videos and photographs of other salt installations by the artist, Motoi Yamamoto:

1.This site has an amazing video with Motoi speaking about why and how he creates his saltwork. I just love hearing the ideas coming right in his own voice.

2. This link will take you to the same video that was shown to us at the museum. You’ll find the video all the way at the end of the page.


Outdoor Process Art for Kids Using Colored Salt- Head outside and create all kinds of patterns, designs, and pictures using colored salt! Perfect for preschool and on up!


Outdoor Process Art for Kids Using Colored Salt- Head outside and create all kinds of patterns, designs, and pictures using colored salt! Perfect for preschool and on up! (Inspired by the artist, Motoi Yamamoto)~ BuggyandBuddy.com


  1. I LOVE this! Gorgeous and fun. I think my kids would really love doing this, since they are addicted to anything involving squeezy bottles!

  2. Oh my word, there are so many things I love about this activity!!! Wonderful way to link back to an art display, and we are definitely going to have to try this out in the near future. Going to pin this shortly. Just LOVE it!!!!

  3. What a great tactile craft project. Looks lovely in it’s natural state and coloured

  4. This is wonderful! I’ve seen work like this before and think it would be a great experience for kids to get them to slooooow down and focus on what they are making- I always wonder what happens if the artist sneezes halfway through making something like this.

  5. Really great use of salt for art! I hadn’t heard of Motoi Yamamoto before. Thanks for the introduction to his work.

  6. Hey Chelsey (sorry for the previous typo)
    I was just going through your fb page today, and couldn’t help reading the blog! I absolutely love the salt art. So creative and unique, and an amazing activity to do with the kids as quality time!

    thoroughly enjoyed the pictures. If i may ask, what was the proportion of salt and food color to give such vibrant results? 🙂


    • Thank you so much, Eva! We just had so much fun with this. I can’t remember the exact ratio of salt to food coloring, but it was much smaller than you’d think. I would estimate about 1/2-3/4 cup of salt with about 10-15 drops of color.

  7. This is simply inspiring! It really makes me want to create! I think my son would really enjoy this! When we do this, I will link back to you 🙂

  8. I love this! What a great outdoors activity. Will def be trying this one with my kiddos 🙂

  9. what a simple yet absolutely fantastic idea!! Now following you

    would love if you you could share this on my weekly link party Serenity Saturday

    Natasha @ Serenity You

  10. This is such a great idea and so simple!

  11. Very pretty! Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library; featuring you this week!

  12. Great art! and the kids are having fun, looks like. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library. I am featuring it on iGameMom http://igamemom.com/2013/07/24/non-traditional-art-projects-for-kids-moms-library/

  13. This is amazing and I am looking forward to trying this with the grandkids. On the kids craft website they had an article for making colored salt with sidewalk chalk, just put the salt a stick of salt in a plastic baggy and rub around until you get the color you want, it works great and there is no waiting to play.
    First but not last time on your site, love it.

  14. Jaqi sheppard says:

    I love this project. It would probably work just as well with glitter, (hyper messy though).
    When I first saw it I thought it was crochet so I’m going to try and do a piece using yarn. Many thanks for the inspiration.

  15. What a fantastic inspiration. I love your colored salt work. I am sure your kids will remember both the visit to the museum and their own salt masterpieces…

  16. I love this idea, I think my girls would really enjoy this project.

  17. This is amazing. I have never seen anything like it. I don’t have any kids But I think I just might have to play with some salt all by myself.

  18. What an amazing idea! Im excited to let my kids try it. I’m sure they’ll have a great time creating with salt. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad I found your blog!

  19. This is beautiful. I love the artwork they created. It’s great how they came home inspired to imitate.

  20. This is amazing and I can’t wait to try it myself! Thank you for sharing and I’ll be featuring it on The Crafty Crow!

  21. Thx for linking up to the thoughtful spot! I love this post you shared – hope to see you back at the hop again soon!

  22. Wow, this is a wonderful idea and so very simple. We are definitely going to try it out with our kids. Thanks very much for introducing us to Motoi Yamamoto, his artwork and your kids’ artwork!

  23. Marcie M. says:

    Do you think the kids could draw with glue and then pour the salt over it so that the art would be permanent?

    • I’m sure that would work too, Marcie! Another related project that is fun is doing what you described, but using regular, white salt. Then children lightly touch watercolors to the salt to create color!


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