The History of the Wooden Sand Tray

The history of the Wooden Sand Tray is believed to have started in 1911 when Author H.B. Wells published a Book entitled: Floor Games. Wells in his book Floor Games describes “The jolliest indoor games for boys and girls demand a floor.”[1] His book is illustrated with photographs and drawings. Floor Games was a precursor to the famous book Wells wrote entitled “War Games,”
In his book, Wells describes using readily available wood planks to create an edge using military figurines that were readily available do to the war time era, along with railway wooden stock that was also used for the side rails. Wells explains how the wood stock can be set up to create geographical barriers to create a “game of wonderful islands” in which the floor is the sea,[5]
Wells had two sons that he built “twin cities”, or two separate Sand Trays thereby creating two Islands on the floor where they both could create and build independently. Floor Games has been regarded as a precursor not only of learning through play but also a beginning to nonverbal child psychotherapy.[8]
Margaret Lowenfield who also was a pioneer of child psychology credits the work of Floor Games by H.B. Wells in which Lowenfield recalls enjoying the “Book Floor Games” as a child.
The Wooden Sand Tray would later be expanded upon by a Jungian Therapist Dora Kalff who claimed the size of a Wooden Sand Tray to be 19.5 x 28.5 x 2.75 inches. This size is based on what the individual can be assumed to see without turning his or her head. In 1956 Dora Kalff would be introduced to the World Technique at a conference and begin working with child therapist Margaret Lowenfield who with Lowenfields permission Dora Kalff incorporated Eastern European with Lowenfields World Technique along with Jungian psychology. Dora Kalff would create Sandplay therapy using the foundations of these prior works to forward the Sand Tray onto new heights.
Sandplay therapy became a nonverbal therapeutic intervention that makes the use of a Wooden Sand Tray with Lid along with Sandtray miniatures that are combined with Therapeutic Sand to create a microcosm and captures what the user of the Sand Tray is feeling at the moment. Sandtray Therapy provides a free non threatening space for children experiencing trauma. Sand Tray Therapy can even be used on adults who have experienced some form of trauma and are having a difficult time explaining emotions where the Sand Tray may act as a catalyst to help facilitate healing.
The Play Therapist observes the use of sand tray miniatures along with divisions in the sand to create voids resembling lakes or ponds. The Play Therapist observe the make believe World that is made inside the Sand Tray and makes recommendations to or changes in the make believe World of Sandplay the client then feels empowered to make these changes in their real World.

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