Not everyone is lucky enough to live near a beach, but you can bring the feel of beach sand to your backyard! This activity is featured in our August Fireflies® Island Getaway theme on page 35.
Note: Sand play can get very messy. We highly recommend you take this activity outdoors for easier cleanup. This sand may stick to the children’s hands, so have a water hose and towel handy for washing afterwards.
- 5 cups play sand (found at hardware stores)*
- 1 heaping cup of corn starch
- ½ tsp. liquid dish soap
- 1 cup water (may need more)
- 1 tsp. Tea Tree Oil (optional)
- large container
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- baking trays
*For this sample, I used patio paver base sand because I had it on hand, and it worked great.
Step 1: Place the sand into a large container. Add the corn starch and mix until thoroughly blended.
Please note: I divided the recipe to make just a small amount as a test batch. Amounts in the ingredient list will yield about 10 lbs of sand, which is enough for about three children.
Step 2: Stir the dish soap into the water, and mix well. Note: Tea Tree Oil can be added to the soapy water to help prevent the sand from developing mold or a stinky scent.
Again, please note that the amounts I am using in the photos are not equal to those of the recipe.
Step 3: Pour the soapy water onto the sand, and mix with a spoon. At this point you will need to assess whether or not you need more water. If the sand still seems dry, mix in small amounts of water at a time. If you add too much water, the sand will not keep its shape once molded. If this happens, sprinkle small amounts of sand in until you reach the right consistency.
My mixture was slightly too wet here so I needed to add a bit more sand:
This is how my sand looked once I had the right consistency:
Step 4: Test the sand’s consistency by packing some into a measuring cup. Flip the measuring cup over and gently pull off the measuring cup. If the sand holds its shape, you are ready to offer it to the children. If it begins to droop or take on a melting effect, add more sand. If it crumbles, add small amounts of water.
Step 5: Place baking trays in front of the children, and give each child a pile of sand. Offer measuring cups, small plastic containers, sand toys, and seashells. Invite the children to play with the sand freely. After play, help the children wash their hands off with a nearby water hose. Store the sand in an air-tight container.