What is moon sand?

Moon Sand (R) is the brand name of a hybrid of play sand and modelling clay that does not harden permanently. It is a mixture of cornstarch, play sand and water. If you add food colouring, you can use Moon Sand to make three-dimensional sand art.

Moon Sand can be also be used as a sensory integration activity with children with special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy or visual differences. You can make something similar to Moon Sand at home for about 60 cents a pound.

Modelling Clay Alternative

Moon Sand is intended to be used like modelling clay. It is sold in kits containing two colours of sand, a carrying case and a variety of small moulds. According to the manufacturer, Moon Sand will not retain water for long. If it dries out, you add a little water and squeeze to reactivate it.

Art Supply

Moon Sand has many uses as an art medium. It can be coloured with food dye, powdered drink mix or paste colouring. Moon sand can be used to make three-dimensional sand art, including elaborate castles and free form sculptures. If you want your work to be permanent, you can mix hide glue, clear acrylic wood treatment or clear epoxy with your Moon Sand. After it hardens, move the pieces to a display case.

Moon Sand can be tamped into bottles, jars or glass boxes to make sand paintings. Regular sand paintings can be ruined if disturbed. Moon Sand paintings can be bumped without destroying the look you created so carefully.

Sensory Integration

Moon Sand can be used as a sensory integration activity. You will need a large, flat, open container to hold your Moon Sand if you did not purchase it as a kit. The child may need encouragement to touch the sand but should not be forced to do so. You may need to reassure your child that it is OK to touch or squeeze the sand, and that it will not hurt.

Working Through Feelings

Moon Sand can be used to help work through strong emotions. Your child can play with Moon Sand whenever he becomes restless or agitated, seems bored or distracted. If you talk about feelings as you work with the Moon Sand, it gives your child a chance to cool off, calm down and begin the process of taking charge of her own emotions. You can talk about how relaxing it is to squeeze and push around. Your child can watch you squeeze Moon Sand harder as you talk about feeling angry, then gradually squeeze softer to show that you are calming down. Your child should be praised for getting the Moon Sand independently when she wants to calm herself.

Range of Motion Activities

Moon Sand can be used to encourage people with limited range of motion to reach and bend. If the container is just barely out of reach, it encourages the individual to lean forward and grasp or brush the container toward him. This may result in the container being knocked onto the floor or into the individual's lap. To prevent this, the lid should be on or the individual should be given a plastic rain poncho to drape over himself or any assistive mobility equipment or body alignment devices he may be using.


To make a homemade version of Moon Sand, you can mix one bag play sand with one box of cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps. Adding a little water at a time will turn the mixture into a workable dough that holds a shape when squeezed. The mixture can then be divided into shallow, plastic containers. Food colouring or powdered drink mix in various colours can be added to make coloured Moon Sand. It should be stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid. If your sand dries out, adding a little water at a time will make it workable again.