Make DIY moon sand for a fun sensory play experience that's like a day at the beach! | via barley & birch
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Make: DIY Moon Sand for At-Home Beach Play

You might have seen this referred to as moon dough, cloud dough, sand dough, or kinetic sand…whatever you call it, this smushy sensory moon sand is a tactile delight, incredibly easy to make, and feels like a trip to the beach!

With summer day trips feeling especially limited this year, I find myself trying to recreate some of the typical visits and traditions by taking bits and pieces of treasured experiences and using them as inspiration for at-home activities. Those I have found the most fun and rewarding almost always wake up our sensory reflexes – helping us to recall memories through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Make your own moon sand for beachy summer sensory play your kids will love! | via barley & birch
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I love this moon sand activity because, in addition to being the quickest little DIY (no, seriously) a few simple sensory additions can really help kiddos feel like they’ve enjoyed that classic beach play experience. Be sure to keep reading after the instructions for a few dead simple ways to make your moon sand play into a full afternoon tropical paradise experience…

To make your own DIY moon sand you’ll need:

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Flour (or rice flour for a gluten-free option)
  • Oil (most tutorials online suggest baby oil, but if you’re worried about your kids putting this in their mouths, coconut and vegetable oils work exactly the same way and are taste-safe)

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Food coloring or kool-aid packets (2-3 packets for every 2 cups of flour for bright, vibrant colors)

ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES FOR PLAY:

  • Buckets, pails
  • Sand and water toys
  • Toy cars and trucks

Note: You can use regular sand and achieve a texture closer to the kinetic sand found in stores by using this recipe from One Little Project – I’ve tried it out and it’s wonderful! For castle-building and using with molds, I prefer our flour and oil recipe because it seems to hold shape better, doesn’t quickly dry out, and uses supplies I typically have around.

DIY Moon Sand Instructions:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl

    You want an 8:1 ratio of flour to oil. So 4 cups flour and 1/2 cup oil, 8 cups flour and 1 cup oil, etc. Mix them together (with color if desired) until the flour still feels silky and sandy, but will hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hands.

  2. Move to a large bin or tray

    Pour your moon sand into a large bin or tray for indoor or outdoor play

  3. Add toys and play!

    You can use this as a fun sensory experience all on its own, or add tools or toys to a bin or tray for play. When playtime has ended, store your moon sand in an airtight container to play with later.

Once you have your own batch together, it’s time to kick up basic beach play a notch! Just like an actual day at the beach, this should feel like a relaxing getaway. One way to achieve total escape and the full beach experience? Awaken ALL your senses…

Make your own moon sand for beachy summer sensory play your kids will love! | via barley & birch
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Ideas for creating a multi-sensory beach-themed moon sand play experience

  • Slather on the sunscreen, grab a beach towel, and take this activity outside!
  • Fill a beach pail or spray bottles with DIY saltwater (I mix a tablespoon of sea salt with a cup of hot water then let cool). You can also fill a tray with saltwater and add our floating egg carton whale to create your own miniature ocean!
  • Turn on some serene ocean sounds (I like this nice, calming soft beach sounds track from YouTube or this hour of relaxing beach waves on Spotify)
  • Add seashells, smooth pebbles, water beads, or other beach-themed nature finds to your play setup
  • Tie in your tastebuds with a favorite classic beach food or healthy tropical drink

Multi-sensory experiences can help increase focus and concentration, and calm anxiety. I know everyone over here is feeling a bit more tense and anxious than usual. With an uncertain back-to-school season looming in the next few weeks, it feels more important than ever to find simple activities that offer calming, meditative experiences.

Make DIY moon sand for a fun sensory play experience that's like a day at the beach! | via barley & birch
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Make sure you ALL give yourselves time to enjoy breathing in the scent of saltwater and coconut, taking in the feeling of wet “sand” slipping through your fingers – even washing your hands and basking in the warm rays of summer sunshine are little day-to-day sensory experiences you can bring attention to with this activity. Breath deep.

Make DIY moon sand for a fun sensory play experience that's like a day at the beach! | via barley & birch
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A few more ways to play with your moon sand…

For more ocean and beach moon sand play visit:

For other play and learning ideas to try with your moon sand visit:

If this virtual trip to the beach made you thirsty for more seaside-themed summer fun, try this simple ocean sensory tray with its own floating egg carton whale. Older kids can experiment with new craft-making processes with our scrape-painted surfboard art, DIY cereal box shutter shades, or kid-made beach ball softies.

Or turn scrap wood into a DIY balance board for an easy afternoon wood project that gets the whole family riding the waves in the backyard!

Make DIY moon sand for a fun sensory play experience that's like a day at the beach! | via barley & birch
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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

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2 thoughts on “Make: DIY Moon Sand for At-Home Beach Play

  1. Risa says:

    This looks lovely! Do you have an estimate of its shelf life, or any suggestions on keeping bugs at bay?

    1. Hi Risa! I have been able to store ours for up to two months using a near-airtight container (I have used both a pyrex bowl with a lid and Ziplock bags in the past). This should keep it safe from bugs (and dry-out) but if you run into issues, a little sprinkle of cinnamon or a couple of drops of lavendar oil should help!

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