Sand Play Dough

The beach theme is still going strong and C has still been enjoying her sea-side small world play. I had an idea to incorporate some play dough into the play, so we made up a batch of easy-peasy no cook play dough and turned it into sand dough, perfect for beach play!

This is what we did. First we made some dough using this recipe that I tweaked from the last time we used it.

Easy No-Cook Play Dough Recipe:
* 1 cup of salt
* 2 cups of plain flour
* 2 tbsp oil
* 2 tbsp cream of tartar
* 1.5 cups boiling water
* few drops of food colouring and/or flavouring
* few drops of glycerine (for extra shine, stretch and smoothness)

 We chose yellow colouring to represent sand. To this basic dough we added 1 cup of real sand and half a cup of rice and it became wonderfully tactile and interesting. You could be creative and ransack your cupboards for something else to add here if you don’t have sand or rice. Try oatmeal, couscous, red lentils, rock salt, herbs, cloves, macaroni. (We have tried most of these and they all work a treat!)

 It took a little while to fully incorporate the sand into the dough, but the rice went in easily. We found the shells and glass pebbles from the small world scene and she had a wonderful time pushing them into the dough to make impressions, decorating little “sandcastles” and sticking flags on the top.

 She spent a long time arranging the shells and then counted them.

 She “needed” (insert urgent toddler voice!) more play dough, so I gave her the other half of the dough that I was going to make into chocolate dough later, and she set about decorating that too.

 The table quickly turned into a beach scene with mini cocktail umbrellas (£1 in Sainsbury’s party section) sitting on top of the little sand sculptures.

 Oh how I love miniature things.

 These pebbles are “hiding” in what looks like an Italian calzone sandwich.

This play dough is now stored in a zip-loc bag and is added to the little collection of flavours, textures and colours. The longest my play dough has lasted in the past is about 7 months, so we shall see if this no-cook method stands the test of time. We have some delicious chocolate dough to share tomorrow!
This activity is good for:
* strengthening the little hand muscles for fine motor development
* imaginative play and creativity
* language and vocabulary
* counting, ordering, shape, size, spatial awareness (making things fit)
* knowledge and understanding of the world: beach, seaside, sand, pebbles, shells etc
* multi-sensory play

This idea is shared at: and center>Best toys for toddlers


  1. says

    Yay I am the 100th follower! Neat :)
    I LOVE this idea! We live near the beach and this will be a perfect idea for these last dreary days of winter to entertain my lil monkeys :)

  2. says

    Wow! LOVE The idea of adding sand and rice – what a great way to make it truly tactile! A great activity for the younger ones too – my 15 month old would love it!!!

    Maggy x