How-To: Make Moldable and Colorful Sand

During this past week of LEAP, we really got in touch with our inner Sand Boa! From squishy, moldable sand at the sensory bin to brightly colored sand at process art, we realized that sand isn’t just for the beach.

Sand play is a super sensory activity. Toddlers can bury their hands deep below the surface, fill containers of various sizes, rub the grains between their fingers, and dig for hidden treasures. We love using sand at LEAP, and enjoy finding new ways to fit it into our activities. Below you’ll find recipes for the sensory bin moldable sand, and the brightly colored sand we used to make sand art. Both recipes are quick and easy, and use ingredients you might already have at home!

Moldable Sand (creates 6 cups)


  • Play Sand (6 cups) – You can find this at home improvement stores. Play sand refers to finer, softer sand without pebbles or other rough materials.
  • Corn Starch (1.5 cups)
  • Dish Soap (2 tsp) – Hint! Choose a dish soap with a fragrance you like. We used standard Dawn and our sand smelled very soapy.
  • Water (3/4 cup) – You may need to add more if the sand feels too dry at the end.
  • Container
  • Bowl
  • Mixing Spoon


  1. Decide on an air-tight container to store your finished product.
  2. Add the corn starch and play sand to your container. Mix thoroughly until well-combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the dish soap and water until fully combined and bubbly.
  4. Add your dish soap/water mixture to your sand/corn starch container and (you guessed it!) mix well.
  5. If the sand feels too dry, slowly add water until it feels just right to you.
  6. Store in your air-tight container. When you’re ready to play, check the consistency. If it feels too dry, add more water. If it doesn’t feel “squishy,” add another squirt of dish soap.

Colorful Sand


  • Play Sand
  • Powder Tempura Paint (washable is best!)
  • Container(s)
  • Spoon


  1. Choose your container. We used Ziploc bags for the light table and small storage containers for process art. The size is up to you – it all depends on how much sand you’re hoping for!
  2. Add the play sand to your container(s).
  3. Add the tempura paint to your sand – the more paint, the richer the color!
  4. Mix well and you’re ready to go! We love this recipe because it doesn’t leave a mess behind, especially if you use washable paint.

We hope you try these recipes at home! Let us know if you can’t quite get them to work, or if you find a fun twist to make it your very own. We love chatting about play!

Written by Nicole Filippone