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For those who celebrate Passover, kinetic sand play can also be a chance to teach kids about the holiday's history and commemorate the Isrealites crossing of the desert and escape from ancient Egypt to freedom. As part of our April Activity Calendar, we share this sand play activity as a way to help kids connect with the Passover story through play. If you celebrate Passover, this could be a nice activity for kids to do alongside other holiday traditions. If you do not celebrate, it could be a nice way to learn about the holiday and the story of Passover—a wonderful way to help children learn to value all people, even those different from themselves. Or, if you have an older child who can make connections, you can connect to people today who leave their homes in search of freedom, especially if, like us, you have refugees in your neighborhood or community.
This activity is featured in our April Activity Calendar. Download your free copy here.
Step 1: Make kinetic sand together.
- First, you'll need to gather three materials—sand, cornstarch and baby oil. If you don't have access to sand in nature or your play area, you can get a bag of play sand at most hardware stores—and there are endless play opportunities in a bag of sand!
- If you do not use corn starch, you can substitute potato starch or arrowroot starch.
- Before mixing the ingredients, give kids time to explore the sand on its own in a bowl or bin. How does the sand feel and move? If your family celebrates Passover, this could be a time to talk about how the Isrealites walked through the desert sand in search of their freedom.
- Whether you want to make a small batch for afternoon playtime or a large batch for a group of children, you can use a ratio of 5 (sand): 3 (cornstarch): 1 (baby oil). Following the 5:3:1 ratio means you’ll get the right consistency whether you are using a measuring cup or just a little container or scoop.
- Pour your sand into a container (e.g. bowl, casserole dish). Then, add your cornstarch and mix until fully incorporated.
- Add your oil and mix until there are no oily or dry spots. That’s it!
Step 2: Set up a play area.
- Pro Tip: Worried about the mess? Take the play outside! Nature treasures are even easier to scoop up out there, too!
Step 3: Play!
Step 4: Add props.
- Make bricks: Offer an ice cube tray and invite kids to pack the compartments with kinetic sand. Flip the tray over to remove your sand bricks. How can kids stack them or use them to build a structure? Make bricks of different shapes and sizes using scoops, cups, Duplo blocks—anything else you can find around the house.
- Fossil hunt: Bury nature treasures in the sand and then use fingers, paintbrushes or a stick to gently excavate the pretend fossils. Or, press nature treasures into the sand to see what impressions are left behind.
- Beach play: If you have beach toys tucked away, bring them out and pretend that you are seaside. If your kinetic sand is in a large tray or bin, kids can use the beach toys just as they would without too much loss or mess. Just be mindful that, if kids do want to experiment with adding water, the sand's feel and special properties will shift, so test out adding water to a little bit of kinetic sand first. Once you add, you can't go back!
- Cooking play: Kinetic sand is easy to mold into different shapes, making it a perfect addition to pretend food play. Add a couple of simple kitchen tools to the play (e.g. cups, ice cream scoop, butter or play dough knife, cookie cutters) and invite kids to make pretend treats. If your family celebrates Passover, invite kids to make a pretend seder plate. How can they mold the sand into a bone, egg, herbs or haroset?
- Make a nature face: Flatten out a ball of kinetic sand and stick objects from nature (e.g. sticks, stones, flower petals, acorns, pinecones, leaves) into it to make eyes, a nose, mouth and any other features kids would like to include. How is this face feeling?
- Designs of all kinds: Sticking nature treasures into a blob or shape made of kinetic sand can be a super satisfying way to create all kinds of designs—or just to give kids the chance to activate the "connecting" schema (learn more).
Step 5: Learn more about Passover.
Why is this activity great for kids?
If you celebrate Passover, this could be a nice activity for kids to do alongside other holiday traditions. If you do not celebrate, it could be a nice way to learn about the holiday and the story of Passover—a wonderful way to help children learn to value all people, even those different from themselves. Or, if you have an older child who can make connections, you can connect to people today who leave their homes in search of freedom, especially if, like us, you have refugees in your neighborhood or community.