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Today I am going to show you how to make kinetic sand. Have you ever made homemade kinetic sand before? We have done it a few times over the years and my kids adore it! So, in case you have never tried it before, here are the instructions.
This is a fun sensory play activity, but also educational! Read on to learn the science behind it.
See my post on making plate tectonics with kinetic sand for a fun educational way to use this.
One of my favorite things as a kid was building sandcastles. We would build them near the water’s edge and have big trenches or moats around them to let the water pour in from the waves. Growing up in southern Florida, I got to do that often.
I love taking my kids to the ocean, but living in the middle of the country it doesn’t happen often.
If you dream of letting your kids build sandcastles, dig trenches or play in wet beach sand, but don’t live near the ocean, kinetic sand is the next closet thing. And you can do it at home, no travel required.
Watch My Video Explaining How to Make Kinetic Sand:
What Is Kinetic Sand?
If you have never heard of kinetic sand, it is a fun sensory sand made for kids to play with. It also is called Moon Sand ( a specific brand of it. This was the first one we tried).
Kinetic sand is a moldable, squeezable sand that you can form into shapes. It acts like wet sand, and holds its shape, but it is not very wet, just a little water is needed to make it. It leaves your hands mostly dry when you play with it.
You can buy it pre-made, but making it is really easy, too. So I want to show you how it’s done. This can save you some money if your kids are really into it.
How to Make Kinetic Sand
Kinetic Sand Ingredients
1 cup colored play sand ~ sand box sand works great too
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Dish Soap
1 Tbsp Water
To make it, you just mix these ingredients together. I like to start by mixing the sand and the cornstarch first. If you add the liquid before mixing them, you will have some cornstarch lumps that are a little trickier to mix in.
Once your sand and corn starch are mixed, add in the soap and water. Mix until it is all combined. If it is really dry and not molding together add a bit more water. If it is too wet, you can add little more sand or corn starch.
It can be played with right away, but you’ll have better results if you let it dry out for 30-60 minutes so it is less sticky.
This is definitely a messier play experience for kids. If you want easy clean up, put it on a large cookie sheet, or let them play outside if that’s an option. It vacuums up easily, though!
Once it’s all made play with it using cookie cutters, molds, toys, etc. Basically let their imaginations run wild!
Live near the beach? (Lucky!) Bring home some sand next time and make kinetic sand with beach sand.
Does Kinetic Sand Dry Out?
This is a common question. It does dry out. I recommend you keep it in an air tight container.
Our colored sand came in little jars and we put it back into those jars to store it. Ziplock bags or Tupperware containers work, too.
When we pull it out to play with it, we often need to add a teaspoon or two of water back into it to play again. But it does keep for a really long time.
How Does It Work? (The Science Behind It)
This homemade kinetic sand is not exactly like the store-bought kind, because the chemicals they use are not available for regular purchase. Normally kinetic sand contains a chemical called polydimethylsiloxane (also called dimethicone). You can buy dimethicone, but it’s not readily available. It is a silicone polymer found in many beauty products.
It’s viscosity increases under stress. Viscosity is the measurement of a substances ability to flow freely. When you add pressure it is solid, but when you release the pressure it is liquid. The polymer chains within the dimethicone make the sand pieces stick together so you can form them into shapes.
If you have ever made Oobleck, this is a non-newtonian fluid. It is both liquid and solid depending on the amount of pressure on it. This kinetic sand is somewhat similar. The cornstarch and soap in this homemade recipe allows it to act more in this way.
See also our Plate Tectonics with Kinetic Sand