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Boredom Buster: Sticky Sand Sensory Play!

2014-01-27 by Melissa Lennig
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This awesome boredom buster, a sticky sand sensory play activity, is from our guest blogger Melissa of Fireflies and Mud Pies.

When grey winter weather has my boys feeling cooped up and cranky, sensory bin experiences often save the day. Our Sticky Sand Sensory Bin provides hours of relaxing pleasure for my children as they dig, build roads, and “cook.” Best of all, clean up is a breeze!

Sticky Sand Sensory Play

A sensory bin is a container filled with a specific material children can investigate and interact with. Popular sensory bin materials include beans, rice, water, oatmeal, corn, and sand. Sometimes sensory materials are scented, dyed, or enhanced with small, seasonal embellishments.

Boy Playing 1

Through sensory play, children develop language skills, social-emotional skills, fine-motor skills, and cognitive skills. I enjoy sensory bins because they encourage both collaborative and creative, independent play. I often pull out a sensory bin when my children need to calm down, as running their fingers over, through, and under sensory material is very therapeutic. Dumping and scooping are repetitive motions that relax their bodies and minds.

To create a Sticky Sand Sensory Bin, you will need:

  • 1 large plastic container
  • 5 lbs craft sand (approximately 7 cups)
  • 1 14 oz. bottle of baby oil (approximately 2 cups)
  • 8 cups all purpose flour
  • Sand toys

Directions: Combine the sand, baby oil, and flour with your finger tips. The Sticky Sand mixture will feel crumbly and soft, yet can be molded and packed into sculptures and shapes.

Boy Playing with Bowl

How to Play

Sand toys, commonly packed away for winter, encourage scooping, dumping, and building and are perfect for indoor sensory bin play. Try building caves, houses, and mountains for plastic people, animals, and insects! Small hands will certainly enjoy smashing sand structures with monster trucks, and tiny toy dinosaur bones are fun to bury and find again and again! Use bowls, cookie trays, measuring cups, silicone muffin molds, and other kitchen tools to whip up sandy play food! Bring out miniature construction vehicles to excavate, dump, and load.

Boy Playing with Cookie Sheet

Cleaning Up

Since Sticky Sand is not wet, show your child how to rub their hands together over the bin to remove excess sand. After using Sticky Sand, hands will feel soft and smooth. A vacuum or broom will easily clean up sand left on the floor.

While my children anticipate the debut of warm, spring weather, sensory bins will keep their hands and minds happily occupied. So many ways to play – so many ways to learn!


Melissa Lennig

Melissa Lennig is the author of Fireflies and Mud Pies, a children’s activity blog that inspires childhood through imagination, art, and nature. Connect with Melissa through Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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