How to Make Kinetic Sand

Molding kinetic sand
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Cutting kinetic sand
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It is no secret that children love to play and get messy, but why would any sane parent, guardian, or educator want to bring a mess into their home? Well, children play in all sorts of ways to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and social skills. There are activities you can do at home or school to aid children in developing these skills—one of them is encouraging sensory play.

Sensory play can build nerve connections in the brain's pathways, which will help little ones complete more complex learning tasks later in life. It can also help calm an anxious or frustrated child, and it helps kids learn sensory attributes: hot, cold, hard, soft, sticky, and dry.

Making kinetic sand is a great sensory play activity and one that a child can assist in making. Have them be your science assistant and practice skills of measuring, pouring, and mixing. Not only will they gain confidence by making something for themselves, but you’ll feel proud watching it unfold.

There are tons of other ways to make kinetic sand than what's shown here—so feel free to try out other methods if you want.

Gather Your Materials

Measuring cups and ingredients gathered together
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To get started read through all of the instructions for this project. Then gather the following materials to make the sand:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Fine white sand
  • Corn starch

To make the colored soapy solution:

  • 1 cup of water
  • Dish soap
  • Food coloring

Pour Sand Into Mixing Bowl

Pouring white sand into a bowl
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It's important that the sand is kept dry. Ensure that your sand is bone dry before continuing with this step. If your sand is damp, you will need to bake it first to remove the excess water.

Pour the sand into a bowl. Use as much sand as you'd like to play with. We used about 3 to 4 cups of sand.

Note: If the sand is damp, spread it on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 120 degrees F. Make sure the sand has cooled before pouring it into the mixing bowl.

Add in Corn Starch

Adding corn starch to the white sand
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Use your spoon measurer to measure out 2 tablespoons of corn starch, and add it to your sand. Help a child get an accurate measurement by having them scoop the corn starch with the measurer, and then use a finger to level out the powder in the spoon by brushing it across the top.

Mix Cornstarch and Sand

Mixing the ingredients for kinetic sand
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Mix together the sand and corn starch until the two are fully integrated.

Tip: You can mix the two with your measuring spoon to save dishes. Set the sand and cornstarch mixture aside.

Make the Colored Soapy Water Solution

Adding dish soap to water
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Since kinetic sand is made up of 98 percent sand and 2 percent polymers—you will need to make a solution containing polymers to add to the sand. The polymers that we need for our kinetic sand are found in dish soap.

First, measure out a cup of water. Add in 1 tsp of dish soap. Mix together the soap and water with the measuring spoon until bubbles appear on the surface.

Add Color to Your Soapy Water Solution

Adding food coloring to dish soap and water solution
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Add at least 6 drops of food coloring into the soapy water solution. We used red and blue food coloring to make purple kinetic sand. The darker the soapy water solution is, the more colorful your sand will be. It takes more food coloring in the water then you think it does. Should you decide later to add more food coloring, you can do so when you are mixing your sand.

Add Soapy Colored Solution to Your Sand and Mix

Mixing the water solution and the sand mixture
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Slowly pour the solution into your sand. If you pour too fast, your sand will be runny. You are aiming for a consistency of a really thick milkshake. It's best to take this step slow and mix the sand with the solution as you go—you will not need to use all the solution you made.

For mixing: roll up your sleeves and dive in with both hands.

Enjoy Your Kinetic Sand

Playing with kinetic sand
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The best part of making kinetic sand is playing with it afterward. Use a plastic knife or fork to try slicing your sand. Have fun with cookie cutters and sandcastle molds. If you are planning to save your sand, package it in an air-tight container or zip bag. Note that the sand may start to dry after a while (the air will evaporate the liquid in the sand). If it does, add some more soapy water solution to continue playing. Enjoy!

If you enjoyed this craft you may also enjoy making slime or playdough.