It’s not quite wet and not quite dry, it’s extremely moldable, won’t dry out, and can be sculpted easily by even the tiniest hands. Kinetic sand can provide hours of fun, sensory play for your little ones, all without the mess of slime or the skill required for clay. Kinetic sand also holds its shape much better than standard beach sand and can be colored or scented for added appeal and stimulation. So, cover the kitchen table (or better yet, take kids outside) to build sandcastles anytime by making your own kinetic sand using any one of the variations included here.
1. Basic Kinetic Sand
Most DIY recipes for kinetic sand use a liquid soap or detergent, a binding agent (like cornstarch), water, and sand. This detailed tutorial from Fabulessly Frugal takes you through a step-by-step creation of a batch of sand, and once you’ve nailed the basics, try out colored sand, glittered sand, and even glow-in-the-dark sand. Source play sand from your local home or hardware store or order a big bag online.
Pro tip: Bake your sand at a low temperature for a few hours before crafting to dry it out. The more powdery it is to begin, the more moldable it will be in the end.
2. Colored Kinetic Sand
If you’re making big batches of kinetic sand, save your pricier food dyes and gels for the perfect cupcake and instead head to the craft store for sand coloring supplies. Powdered tempera paint goes further than food dye drops, makes much brighter sand, and cleans up way easier than food coloring, which can stain skin. Experiment by tinting sand with ground sidewalk chalk for a pastel effect, too!
3. Rainbow Kinetic Sand
A kid-friendly and non-toxic recipe that combines cornstarch, sand, and hand soap, this version of kinetic sand from Mom Dot, can be colored with food-safe dye in all shades of the rainbow. To achieve the brightest rainbow colors, source bright white play sand in bulk to provide a blank canvas so the colored dye really pops. Kinetic sand is a great way to teach kids about color mixing as well, so start with the primaries and challenge little ones to mix the remaining colors.
4. Cornmeal Kinetic Sand
Great for the littlest scientists who are still investigating new experiences through taste, this recipe from Surviving a Teacher’s Salary, for moldable sand uses only kitchen staples (no sand in sight). Combine flour, cornmeal, oil, and corn syrup for a gritty putty that won’t dry out. As a bonus, the cornmeal gives your kinetic sand a warm, beach-inspired color so backyard kids can easily play pretend.
5. Unicorn Kinetic Sand
Glitter makes everything–including kinetic sand–better. After dying the sand in pretty pinks, purples, and blues toss in a bunch of sparkles. Vary the size and shape of the glitter to add interest and really make a batch of sand worthy of your special unicorn fan.
6. Kinetic Sand Slime
Start with a batch of homemade slime (use school glue and saline solution), then slowly add sand to decrease the stickiness and add a fine grit. This mixture is super stretchable and squishy, but it won’t hold its shape as well as non-slime kinetic sands. This is a great go-to for a non-sticky slime recipe that’s easier for little kids and clumsy fingers.
7. Shaving Cream Kinetic Sand
Mixing up this recipe from One Little Project at a Time is just as fun as playing with its finished product! Simply empty a can of aerosol shaving cream into a bucket of sand and stir until combined. Consider this version of kinetic sand time-limited, though; when the shaving foam is over-mixed, the consistency becomes more like a wet, packed, sand.
8. Kinetic Sand Sensory Bin
To help limit the mess and spread of sand during playtime, keeping things contained in a plastic bin is a great idea. Toss in a few plastic or silicone cookie cutters to encourage kids to practice their shape names, and allow little ones to create imaginary scenes: race tracks, construction sites, and terrariums all work well in a kinetic sand setting.