Say hello to your new favourite kids craft DIY. Kinetic sand is a mouldable, squishable, soft type of sand which is amazing for sensory play with small children. It holds it’s shape better than regular sand, which means it easy to cut, shape and play with. My own children are mesmerised when we get our kinetic sand play set out. We make mini sandcastles, cut shapes using play dough cutters and test out making different textures and pressing objects into it.
You can buy some great starter kinetic sand kits out there – we’ve added a few of our favourites below, but where the real fun begins is when you make your own! There are so many different kinetic sand recipes out there on the internet. You can transform regular play sand into kinetic sand by adding a couple of easy-to-find ingredients – mainly cornflour (aka corn starch if you’re in the States) and an agent to add the extra firmness – we’ve used vegetable oil here but you can also use a mix of water and washing up liquid.
When it comes to play and craft ideas for kids, sand comes top of our list every time. We’ve carefully tested out a few different recipes to try the various options for ingredients and put together this guide for how to make kinetic sand for you using our favourite recipe. We have used regular play pit sand for our tutorial but you can also use coloured play sand (£11.95 for a pack of 6 colours, Baker Ross) if you want to get bright colours without using food colouring.
Main image: © BravissimoS
What is kinetic sand?
Kinetic sand is regular sand but with some added ingredients which give it amazing qualities to hold its shape more firmly than regular sand. While regular sand naturally dries out in time, kinetic sand remains slightly wet to the touch so you can cut and squish it to make a huge array of shapes. This makes it hugely popular for STEM learning and sensory play with small children.
Instead of being coated in water, the grains of sand are instead coated in silicone oil, which doesn’t dry out in the way sand on a beach does.
To put it more technically, the science behind it is that Kinetic sand is a mix of 98% and 2% Polydimethylsiloxane, which has a structure which contains carbon-silicon bonds. This gives the sand a slightly elastic, firm quality which makes it amazing for messy play and truly magical for children.
How to make kinetic sand: step by step guide
You Will Need
- Sand (3 cups), Fine play sand is best
- Cornflower (2 cups), (Corn starch if you are in the US)
- Vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
- Food colouring
Mix two cups of cornflour with three cups of sand together in a bowl. We have used regular play sand (£15.99, Amazon) – this works best with fine sands, and works nicely with coloured play sands too.
Pour half a cup of vegetable oil into the sand and flour mixture. You can also add some drops of food colouring at this point if you want to make coloured sand. Mix together with a spoon and then with your hands to squish it all firmly together.
Your sand is now ready to play with! Find a surface (be prepared – it will get messy and we kids will love it!) and you can start to mould, cut and shape your DIY kinetic sand.
We’ve used play dough cutters and tools with our sand. It’s also fun to play around with making different textures by pressing objects into it.
Kinetic sand kits
There are some great kinetic sand kits out there – even if you are making your own sand it’s well worth trying out a kit too as they come with some really fun tools that children will love experimenting with.
Sandisfying Colour Kinetic Sand kit
- Buy it now (Amazon, £16.12)
With 10 tools and 900 g of kinetic sand to get you started, we like that this kit comes with two colours of sand to get you started if you don’t have time to make your own.
Kinetic Sand Folding Sand Box kit
- Buy it now (Amazon, £23.95)
We really love this handy folding box as we know from experience that one of the few drawbacks of kinetic sand is, it can get a bit messy if you don’t have a secure place to put it away in between playtimes. The fact that this one comes with kings, queens and castle tools to play with is an added bonus.
Kinetic Sand Sandwhirlz Kit
- Buy it now (The Entertainer, £20)
I’ve got this addictive kit at home so it comes personally tested by my children (5 and 8 years’ old). It’s a really fun twist on kinetic sand as you mix colours together then us the fun tools to push them through to create sand colour “explosions” (don’t worry it doesn’t literally explode, but the sand does burst out of the tools as you push and children love it).
Kinetic Sand Ice Cream Treats Kit
- Buy it now (Amazon, £14.04)
What is not to love about this sand ice cream kit? Obviously you’ll need to have a word with children to explain it’s not actually edible ice cream, but they’ll love the imaginative play of making their very own ice cream parlour.
Baker Ross Fluorescent Play Sand Set
- Buy it now (Baker Ross, £11.95 for six colours)
We have this play sand at home and have already got through two reorders in the past year, it’s such a hit. Originally we got it to go with some Baker Ross sand art kits (where you peel away strips of tape to reveal sticky pictures and then colour in the sticky bits with fine sand – these are another great tip for entertaining children with sand play), but it’s also a great sand to use in DIY kinetic sand making too.