I've noticed kinetic sand at toy shops for a while but never thought to purchase it…until recently. Boy, what have we been missing out on? My 2-year-old loves the stuff. It's like play dough that doesn't dry out. She spends ages making sandcastles and "cakes" with it every day.
What is kinetic sand?
Kinetic sand is basically wet sand minus the wet part. It makes amazingly perfect sandcastles yet doesn't stick to your hands. What allows it to do so is a bonding agent called polydimethylsiloxane which accounts for about 2% of the content (the other 98% is obviously, well, sand). It was created for sculpting purposes but naturally quickly found its way into kids' play rooms. It's like having an indoor sand pit.
We get the painting mat out to play on though playing out of some kind of large container/splash pool would probably be more ideal to contain the spread of sand. It is generally easy to brush it off clothes and the carpet but it's inevitable a little gets left behind each time and perishes to the vacuum cleaner. I am wondering how long it will take for it all to just disappear…
If you don't have specific sand moulds you can just do what we do and use regular items like plastic cups and bowls. It's actually a nice activity to go through the toy box or kitchen and see what items you can use to mould the sand.
How it differs to play dough is that obviously, just like real sand you can only create masterpieces on the ground and not lift it up. Basic things like balls and short cylindrical shapes will hold but anything else will crumble. You can turn out a dolphin from a mould that will look perfect on the ground, but try to pick if up and it will disintegrate. The same goes with trying to join items e.g. stacking balls to make a snowman.
This is the brand (pic below) we use which was $20 from Toy World for almost a kilo. Most other places sell it for more. It's not cheap but if your kids really likes sand or play dough and imaginative play like mine does, it is worth how much play time you get out of it.
Besides creating things out of the sand, Miss A also loves to get out her figurines and make up stories with it e.g. toys at the beach, people climbing mountains or animals getting stuck in quicksand. She has also been having a blast practicing her knife skills by cutting her sand cakes with a kid's knife (it is a lot easier to cut into than play dough). The possibilities are endless. It really is perfect for winter when you've got to find more things to do indoors…and is also terribly entertaining and addictive for adults too!