Perfect as both a calming sensory experience and for tactile therapy play, kinetic sand has made its way into the hearts of kids, parents and teachers alike. But, you won’t have to worry about your youngster getting bored with these activities with kinetic sand, from everyday play like digging for treasure to sensory play ideas like squeezing for hand strength.
Benefits of kinetic sand
For kids with sensory disorders or who need occupational therapy, the advantages of playing with this animated substance goes way beyond fun. “It is just like playing with wet sand,” explains Caitlin McLaughlin, occupational therapist for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “You can form any kind of three-dimensional shapes and those shapes maintain their form. This can be extremely therapeutic for children with tactile sensitivities and helps them tolerate touching a grainy substance.” But, immersing your hands into kinetic sand isn’t the only way to play.
Sensory play ideas
For youngsters with tactile and noise sensitivities, playing with kinetic sand can help kids:
- Relax and get used to it. Especially for children with tactile therapy needs, sifting the sand through fingers helps kids get familiar with the texture while also offering a relaxing activity.
- Make 3-D shapes. Mold kinetic sand into a sphere, a brick or any other 3-D shape your child’s hands can fathom.
- Go on a treasure hunt. Bury small objects like army men, jewels, plastic coins and buttons and have your kids dig for “buried treasures” with their fingers.
- Get all Zen-like. Using a stiff paintbrush, kids can stroke the kinetic sand for a calming activity similar to a Zen garden.
- Design a pretty pattern. Using shells, nuts, cardboard tubes and more, your youngster can create patterns in the sand and fine-tune motor skills.
- Play with your food. Kids can “bake” with kinetic sand by shaping it into ingredients and mixing it by hand in a bowl.
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Photo credit: WABA Fun via YouTube
Occupational therapy options
Playing with kinetic sand can also help focus the fun on fine motor skills and hand strength when you:
- Slice it into chunks. Let your kiddo use a plastic knife to cut the kinetic sand to increase hand strength and strengthen fine motor skills.
- Make play cookies. Use cookie cutters or the opening side of a plastic cup and encourage your kid to cut the kinetic sand into 2-D shapes.
- Create indoor sandcastles. Bring the fun of the beach indoors by letting kids pack and unmold sandcastle shapes.
- Pay attention to the details. Spread it flat or shape into a sphere and use small tools to etch designs and faces into the sand.
- Put pressure on it. The unique texture of this living moldable media makes it great for squeezing for hand strength.
- Push small objects into the sand. Give your kiddo a handful of toothpicks or buttons and have your child push the objects into a mound of kinetic sand for occupational therapy play that you can time, too.
Whether or not your child has tactile therapy or sensory play needs, these ideas for cool sensory activities with kinetic sand can provide hours of indoor fun. What’s your favorite way to use kinetic sand?