Sunday, June 5, 2011

Making Moon Sand

I once read that to be a good teacher, you must be a good plagiarizer. If that's true, then I'm an awesome teacher! haha

Ever since I saw this easy moon sand recipe over at Irresistible Ideas for play based learning, I knew I HAD to try it.

The official recipe is:

4 cups of craft sand
2 cups of corn starch
1 cup of water

However, I found that even 1 cup of water is too much. Just add the water a little at a time. If you add too much water, the consistency is like that of oobleck, only gritty. It still works great as a sensory experience, but true moon sand should be mold-able and crumbly.

The day before, we mixed up a batch of moon sand together as a class. I forgot my camera that day, so I saved some ingredients to be added to the batch. Here you see Giovanni pouring in the craft sand. I like using colored sand, but if you use white, you can add color with liquid water color.

The texture of the sand is so soft and fine. I love to use it by itself for art and "sand writing." But today, we're using the last of our batch.
We used the last of our cornstarch, too. The day before, we measured the ingredients, but it's not really necessary. You'll want more sand than cornstarch, and more cornstarch than water.
Mixing the dry ingredients.
Here you see him adding just about a 1/4 a cup of water.
If it gets hard, you have too much cornstarch. Add more sand to remedy. If it's too crumbly, add a little more water.
Ours came out perfect.
When you squeeze it, it should mold without sticking too much to your hand.

When you press it, it should crumble like sand.

A long time ago, I purchased an expensive moon sand set. The moon sand lasted only a week or so, but I kept the toys. I could never afford to buy more moon sand, but this recipe was cheap and easy!

He fills up the boulder with sand, then places a surprise.
He buries the treasure, and fills the boulder all the way to the top...

...pats it down...

...clears a space...

...turns it over...

...and voila! I perfectly sculpted boulder!
Then he breaks it up.
And finds dinosaur fossils!
I saw that Amy over Child Central Station uses baby oil instead of water. Next time, I'm definitely trying that out!

This activity is good for:
  • Building Small Motor Skills: the small muscles in the hand are used for buttoning a shirt, tying a shoe, and writing with a pencil. Any time you can squeeze, roll, and crumble something, you are doing pre-writing!
  • Science/ Inquiry: The children were apart of every step of making the moon sand. They helped me get the supplies, measure the ingredients, pour them, mix them, test it, and figure out what else we needed. Next time, I would like to just put the ingredients out, along with some bottles of baby oil, and see what they do! That is true inquiry. 
  • Problem Solving: Many kids thought it would act like play dough. They tried using traditional play dough cutters with the moon sand, but found it to crumble instead of cut into neat lines. This presented a could they make the shapes they wanted without cutting.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Happy playing!

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