Homemade Kinetic Sand for Toddlers
Homemade kinetic sand is made up of oil, cornstarch and sand. These ingredients turn the sand into a crumbly claylike material. So you can mold kinetic sand similarly to how you can mold wet sand, but it doesn’t have the weight and moisture of wet sand.
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Homemade Kinetic Sand Ingredients
I got the idea to make kinetic sand from Tinkergarten. My son is enrolled in a local Tinkergarten group, which is an amazing child led exploration class/group that meets once a week outdoors. Even if your child is not enrolled in a class though, you can still access their site and read their many posts on fun DIY activities.
So, to make kinetic sand, Tinkergarten recommends using –
- Cornstarch and
- Baby oil
I saw other recipes online that said you could use canola oil, but I opted for baby oil since it is composed of mineral oil (which means it won’t go rancid. This is important if you want to keep your kinetic sand around for awhile!).
I bought a 50lb bag of “Play Sand” from the Hardware Store (Ace) for about $5, and the cornstarch and the baby oil at the grocery store. And those were only a couple dollars or so each.
Next time I need some more sand though, I will probably ask someone at the hardware store if they have a finer ground sand. The play sand works just fine, but I feel like a finer ground sand would feel extra soothing!
You will also need a big bowl or a large bin. Ideally making and playing with the sand outside is preferable (it can get a bit messy), but it’s still too cold out where we are so we just decided to bring the outside in!
Homemade Kinetic Sand Recipe
As far as a recipe is concerned, I don’t think you need to be too exact with the cornstarch, baby oil and sand ratio. You can just keep adding as you mix to get your desired consistency.
I used Eating Richly’s recommendation of a 5:3:1 ratio to get started (2.5 cups of sand, 1.5 cups of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of oil). I ultimately ended up adding more cornstarch and baby oil, but it’s really up to you!
This is also an easy recipe for toddlers to put together! My 2 year old had so much fun adding and mixing all of the ingredients.
Ways to Play with Homemade Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand offers an amazing open-ended play opportunity. And open-ended play helps little minds exercise imagination, creativity, problem solving and flexible thinking skills!
Additionally, you really don’t need any special tools. My toddler and I simply grabbed some measuring cups, spoons and toys from around the house to use in the sand.
Toddlers naturally, or with a little bit of encouragement, will explore sand in the following ways;
- Stamping (using cooking cutters)
- Hammering/Flattening/Smoothing (using the bottom of a measuring cup or drinking cup to flatten and smooth sand)
- Molding (using the kinetic sand like clay to shape balls and mounds – this provides a good opportunity for kids to engage in pretend play. The sand becomes anything they want it to be!)
- Transferring sand from one bowl to another (using a spoon or measuring cup)
- Pretend Play (incorporating other toys into sand play, like small cars or figurines)
Benefits of Homemade Kinetic Sand Play for Toddlers
- Sensory play
The feel of the sand can be very soothing for kids. This extra sensory element is very engaging and can help kids stay focused on their play.
- Pretend play
As previously mentioned, open-ended and pretend play are great to help kids exercise their imaginations and creativity. They also learn new ways to use tools and everyday items.
- Parallel play
For younger toddlers around age 2, offering up a bowl or two of kinetic sand can be a great way to encourage some parallel play. Young toddlers are usually not yet engaging in direct play with one another, but giving them opportunities to mingle through parallel play can help them get comfortable with social activities. You can read more about toddler social development in my posts on Shy Toddlers and Pandemic Babies and Supporting Their Social Development.
- Independent Play
Offering some homemade kinetic sand can also be a great activity to introduce during independent playtime. For more on this topic, you can read my post on How to Encourage Independent Play.
Did this homemade kinetic sand work for your toddler? Say hi and let me know in the comments below 🙂