Messy Play: Coloured Sand and Water

The weather has been beautiful this week so the girls have been playing in the garden with a range of multi-sensory materials and toys. I found this wonderful range of play sand for only 99p per bag at the 99p shop and we bought it in purple, green and red (thanks to my friend Naomi for the tip off!)
We started off with one colour at a time, but after a couple of days all of the colours were out and well mixed together! I set up a little investigation area for sand play, using a table, some TubTrugs, containers, tubes, scoops, shells, spoons, buckets and water wheels.

 We found some green toys to add to the green sand.

 They love playing with sensory materials standing up at their level, so this old Ikea coffee table has become our fail-safe play area outside! Baby Pop had some sand in a little tray that she could reach into easily. The whole experience was wonderful, according to her!

 The sand was beautifully fine and fluid when poured, and that made for fantastic sensory experiences for little hands!

 And it also means it poured really well through the funnels and water wheels as though it were a fluid substance. Cue huge concentration and repetition of actions from Cakie.

 We  mixed in some red and purple and they swished it around in a baking sheet and then directly onto the table, creating beautiful marblised patterns and shapes by dragging through their fingers and other tools.

 Then Cakie had a go at drawing through the sand using thick chalks and it made a beatiful effect, especially where the complementary and contrasting colours were used.

 And here is pictorial evidence of her very first ever letter ‘C’ for her real name! She has been pointing it out in print quite often recently, but I was amazed that she could actually produce one herself. Proud Mummy moment!

 I had to have a go with the chalk/ sand drawing too, of course, and they liked tracing the swirls I’d drawn with their fingers and investigating how the chalk smudged and then disappeared altogether.

 Little Pop enjoyed having a go at her own drawing too. This girl LOVES to draw!

 And of course, the water was soon added, and then the real messy play magic began! (hence changes in clothing too!)

 Drawing in the wet sand and squishing it with fingers, arms and whole bodies! In fact, tipping the sand into the water tub and climbing right inside was the best idea of all!

I’m thinking this sand would also make beautiful art using paper, card or natural materials as a base. We shall experiment and be back!

This activity is good for:
  • sensory: discovering textures with fingers and whole bodies
  • literacy: mark making/ creating letter shapes
  • motor skills: using small tools to grip, pour, scoop, draw, write
  • maths: counting scoopfuls/ exploring capacities/ filling and emptying
  • science: investigating materials/ experimenting with wet and dry, runny and firm/ what causes a wheel to spin?
  • creativity: role play scenarios/ making art and pictures using a range of media and on a large scale
  • outdoor play opportunities


  1. says

    Looks like fun! I saw a recipe for make-at-home moonsand that uses that same play sand, I hope I come across some for us to experiment with.

  2. says

    Thank You all so much and I hope you are able to track down something similar. It really is a bargain!

    Melissa- aren’t you just the loveliest! What a wonderful thing to say to a fellow mum/mom! :-) x