Sand Play Dough With Loose Parts


In preparation for this week’s Hawaiian-themedCrafty Kids class, Miss G and I experimented with a new-to-us dough this morning… Sand play dough!  While I have seen several different types of sand doughs and clays floating around the internet, I figured we may as well try just adding some sand to our very favourite no-cook play dough first.  Sure enough, it worked.  Wonderfully, I might add!  

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It turned out soft and squishy but with lots of grit and weight to it, and it resembles beach sand just perfectly.

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Grae was excited to make our new dough look ‘just like the beach’ through her play, so we gathered up a few loose parts to add to the fun.  Luckily, we have fairly extensive seashell and sea glass collections on hand {but both are available in craft stores and on Amazon too – seashells | sea glass}, so we added those plus some glass gems.  Some miniature favour buckets given to Miss G by our lovely housekeeper made perfect sand pails, and a few gelato spoons became our shovels.

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Then it was time to play!

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Grae set to work on creating her beach and immediately commented on how great the dough felt when squished between her fingers – I couldn’t agree more…  It’s really, really fun to play with.

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We began by experimenting with making sand castles.

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While it was tricky to take the dough out of the buckets, we found that using our mini shovels to loosen the outer edges made it doable.

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Next Gracen hid all sorts of beach treasure for me to find…

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And in the process, discovered that she could make shell and rock imprints.

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Aren’t they beautiful?

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Then of course the beautiful beach needed decorating, so out came all of our loose parts.

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Later on in the day, Gracen asked if she could take her new play dough set down to the courtyard to share with her friends.  She proudly took it down and all of the kids sat around a table quietly engaged in their play – some making sand pizzas, some building castles, and others creating beaches – until it was time to head upstairs for dinner.  I’d say sand play dough is a hit.

Sand Play Dough With Loose Parts | Mama Papa Bubba

Sand Play Dough

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of fine beach sand {not craft sand}
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of glycerine
  • 3/4 cup of boiling water

Whisk the top set of ingredients together in a large boil.  Add the boiling water and mix well with a wooden spoon.  When cool enough to do so, dump the dough out onto the counter and give it a good knead.  Let it cool completely (this will get rid of any residual stickiness) and then play!

{FYI:  The amount of dough seen in the photos above is a double batch and we always just use dry measuring cups to make our play doughs.}


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50 thoughts on “Sand Play Dough With Loose Parts

    1. Home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot have bags of play sand year round. I also noticed my local Walmart had bags of colored play sand the other day too.

    2. Yes – any home improvement store. Just be careful what you buy, Jen! Many types of play sand contain crystalline silica, a known carcinogen. :/ All of the bags at our local store actually had warning labels on them that said that the dust from the sand could be potentially toxic.

      1. What did you use instead, Jen? Do you have a beach nearby or do you use a specific brand? I’m thinking sifted sand from a beach?

  1. I made this today as a trial run for favors for my sons beach birthday party. It is super sticky, what did I do wrong???

      1. I added extra sand and flour a little bit at a time until it was the right consistency. I ended up with about 1 1/2 more cups of sand and 1/2 cup more of flour. I made another batch today following the original instructions again, and it worked fine this time. I don’t know. The only thing I can think of is that my kitchen is probably about 10 degrees cooler today because the ac is on. Otherwise it’s all the same.

        1. Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that. Prairie Todd, I’m glad it worked the second time around! :) Two things to note: 1) “Craft sand” does not work well and produces a sticky mess and 2) I use only dry measuring cups when making my play dough recipes.

  2. Does it leave sand on your hands? I saw something like this at Michael’s yesterday and I’m wondering how similar it is.

  3. My grandchildren absolutely love “Playing Beach ” with Nonna! I cannot get them away from it. Thank you so much for another wonderful idea!

  4. Do you know if coconut oil could be used in place of the vegetable oil? I think that would smell lovely and be achy.

  5. I made a double batch of this sand play dough to take to a family reunion for the younger kids to play with. I love the texture and it was very easy to mix up. I’m also taking shells, Small plastic sand castle molds from the dollar store, plastic cookie cutters and rolling pin, mini pie pan, small plates, etc. I think the kids will love it. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love this idea!! I will try this out asap. Do you have any recs for where to purchase bulk cream of tartar and/or glycerine?

    1. We’ve not tried that before, but that sure would be cool! I’m guessing that it would, but it may crack… Report back to us if you decide to give it a shot?

  7. this was perfection on day one, but then the next day in a sealed bag, two separate batches are gooey and soft. I am going to add more flour to try and dry it out, but any idea why it may not hold? its not the craft sand, but real play sand.

    1. Ugh! That’s disappointing, Stacy! The only time I’ve ever had play dough do that is when I’ve stored it near a heat source… It wasn’t near a register or on top of the fridge, was it?

      1. oh. well yep. lol. It was next to the stove. I also realized my sand was wet, so I just did a batch of sand in the oven and dried it out first. I will go a second round and NOT put it by the stove this time. lol. Oh geez. Thank you!! We have an ariel birthday party this weekend and Im counting on this for fun. Many thanks for your lovely ideas. They’re beautiful and classically simple and pure fun. All the best!!!

        1. Oopsies! Now you know for next time! A dry, cool place is best for play dough storage. This dough will literally last for MONTHS if stored properly! Enjoy the party this weekend and happy birthday to your little!

  8. This is wonderful! Made it today with my grand and she had a blast adding items to this. We also made a double recipe and I substituted baby oil for the glycerin. It came out fine! Once cooled it feels a lot like regular play dough. Funny thing- we used sand from a tightly sealed bottle with sand brought home from vacation years ago!

  9. I’d like to make something like this without having to boil- is there a recipe that requires no cooking? I wanted to make it with kids at school.

  10. Hi! I would love to make this, but I have a student with Celiacs. Is there a way to make it Gluten Free? Would it work If i used corn starch instead of flour? Thanks!

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