At SUPA STEM HQ we had amazing fun making moon sand this week!
It’s fun to squeeze, mold, crumble and build with – and if you love making sandcastles at the beach then you’ll love moon sand.
Make your kids’ play time fun and educational with this easy DIY moon sand recipe.
What is moon sand?
Moon sand is more commonly known as kinetic sand. But it’s also called therapy sand or calm sand. It’s a type of sensory play that’s often used in schools and therapy sessions to help kids (and adults) relax and de-stress.
You can buy kinetic sand from toy stores or online, but it’s actually really easy (and cheaper) to make your own! This can be a great addition to your child’s toys at home, as it provides them with a new material to explore.
How is moon sand different from regular play sand?
The main difference between regular sand and moon sand is the texture. Moon sand is softer and more “oozy” than regular sand because it contains oil. This means that it crumbles easily, and never dries out or gets sticky.
Why is it called moon sand?
The name “moon sand” comes from the fact that it looks like the type of sand you might find on a moon or in space.
What are the different ingredients needed to make moon sand?
You can make homemade moon sand using a few household ingredients. It’s fun, simple, quick, and can be played with by any child for ages.
To make moon sand, you need:
- Oil (coconut oil, vegetable oil, canola oil)
- Plain flour
- Measuring cup
- Glitter (optional)
- Food colouring (optional)
How to make moon sand?
Making homemade moon sand is a really fun and easy recipe that will keep the children entertained for hours. You can make as much moon sand as you like, but you need to get the ratio between flour and oil right.
Here’s our moon sand recipe:
1) Add baby oil and flour to a bowl.
You want to have a ratio of 1:8 baby oil to flour. So if you use one cup of oil, you’ll need 8 cups of flour (this is A LOT of moon sand!).
We suggest starting with half a cup of baby oil and four cups of flour.
2) Create a mixture of baby oil and flour in a bowl.
Mix the baby oil and flour in a large bowl. It’s easiest and quickest to mix with your hands, though this is messy of course!
Mix the baby oil and flour with your hands.
Make sure that everything is completely incorporated to achieve a consistency of a crumbly but mouldable, a bit like wet sand texture.
3) Add food coloring or glitters (optional).
To make it more exciting, you can add glitter or use different colors of food coloring. It’s best to use an oil-based one so it mixes well with the moon sand.
For the food colouring, start by adding a few drops and just add more if needed.
For the glitters, add just the right amount. Remember, a little goes a long way! Adding too much glitter will make the sand difficult to work with.
Also, you can make your moon sand non-toxic and taste-safe by using edible glitter!
Now your moon sand is ready to play with!
How to properly store DIY moon sand?
When you’re not using your moon sand, store it in an airtight container or a sealed container. We like to use mason jars or zip-lock bags and make them last for quite a while.
If you leave it out, the flour will start to attract bugs and moisture from the air which will make it go bad quickly. If it moistens, you can use a newspaper and your moon sand should dry up in a few hours.
What are the benefits of playing with moon sand?
There are several benefits that one can get from playing with moldable sand or kinetic sand. Some of the benefits include:
1) Great sensory experience
Moon sand is a great idea for a sensory play activity that can keep kids entertained. The different textures and colors can help them to explore their senses and use their imagination.
2) Develops fine motor skills
Playing with moon sand can help to improve fine motor skills. Squeezing, molding, and shaping the sand helps to strengthen the muscles in the hands and fingers.
3) Reduces stress
Moon sand can also be used as a calming tool for both children and adults. The act of squeezing and molding the sand can be therapeutic and help to reduce stress levels.
4) Enhances creativity
Since moon sand is moldable, it can help to enhance a child’s creativity. They can let their imaginations run wild as they create different shapes and sculptures.
Play ideas for moon sand
There are endless ways to play sand. Here are some of our favorites:
- Use cookie cutters or cups to make shapes
- Use moldable toys to make imprints
- Create a mini-mountain and add toy cars on top
- Bury small toys and let your child find them
The possibilities are endless! We recommend placing the moon sand in a large container where your child can play, explore, use their imagination and just have fun!
Challenge and Takeaway
Now set yourself an engineering challenge! What can you build with the sand?
Think about the limitations of what you’re working with – some things are going to be easier to make than others. For example, because moon sand is crumbly and not very stable, you’ll find it tricky to make very hollow structures.
However, if you want to make a more solid structure like a mini mountain or a ramp for a ball to roll down, this will be simpler as the dough will hold its shape better.
You can also use bowls, moulds and cookie cutters to help you make shapes too. You can store the moon sand in a container with a well-fitting lid and it will keep indefinitely.
You can practise ratios with moon sand. You can try mixing larger or smaller amounts. See if you can make a tiny amount and still keep the right ratio of baby oil to flour.
Get thinking about these questions and tell someone what you think. You can ask them what they think too.
What does the word ‘ratio’ mean? Is there any time in everyday life that you have to use ratios? What was the smallest possible amount of moon sand that you managed to mix whilst keeping the ratio 1:8?
Was there anything that surprised you about building with the moon sand? What problems did you have when you were building with it? What are the advantages of using moon sand to build a structure?
So what can we learn from this activity? Well, loads! But let’s take a look at ratios since you needed to understand them to make the moon sand correctly.
Ratios are used to compare two different things. Here’s an example:
The ratio of boys to girls in my class is 3:1 (there are three boys for every girl, so if there are 3 girls, for example, there must be 9 boys in the class).
There might be 15 boys in the class and 5 girls, but I wouldn’t say the ratio is 15:5. With ratios it’s better to simplify them as much as possible by getting them to the lowest possible number. We do this because it makes it easier to understand the comparison, especially when the original numbers are really big. The lowest number we can use whilst keeping the same ratio (the same comparison between boys and girls) is to say 3:1.
Working out the lowest possible number works the same as it does with fractions like 4/16. Rather than say 4/16, it makes more sense to say 1/4. If you eat 4/16 of a pizza, that’s the same amount of pizza as eating 1/4 of it.
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