Kinetic Sand 101 – Busy Toddler

Kinetic sand 101: Everything you need to know. Image shows a child reaching into a kinetic sand bin.


What exactly is kinetic sand and how do kids play with it? Is it reusable? Taste safe? Should you buy it or DIY it? Explore the ins and outs of kinetic sand with answers to all these questions and more. It’s time to become a kinetic sand expert.

Kinetic sand 101: Everything you need to know. Image shows a child reaching into a kinetic sand bin.

What is kinetic sand?

Kinetic Sand is a trademark of Spin Master. When we say “kinetic sand” as a catch all for this substance, it’s similar to saying Kleenex vs tissue or Band-aid vs bandages. I use (and prefer) actual brand name Kinetic Sand to all others so when I talk about this stuff, that’s generally what I mean.

This is absolutely not a sponsored post. Spin Master has no idea who I am.

The more generic name (that nobody uses) for Kinetic Sand is hydrophobic sand or magic sand. You can see how kinetic sand is the better catch all.

The trademarked Kinetic Sand is created by mixing fine sand with a silicone substance and oil. This creates a buttery soft sand texture that can hold shape like wet sand but isn’t actually wet. It moves slowly and fills molds, but doesn’t get in eyes or the air the way dry sand does.

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Kinetic Sand

This is the basic Kinetic Sand that I love. My rule of thumb for Kinetic Sand is 1 lb per kid so I have two bags of this for my three children.

Why I like kinetic sand so much

Look, this post is my love song to kinetic sand and I’m fine with it. This is a product that has given me hundreds of hours of kids playing independently and not needing adult help and I will pay it forward to others.

This stuff is magical.

As an adult, you can see the allure. It’s calming and interactive. It’s full of motion and possibilities. It’s completely kid-sufficient and doesn’t need an adult’s help.

My kids (who are now 10, 8, and 6) have played with Kinetic Sand daily since 2020. This has been the hottest “toy” at my house for more than 3 years. Before that, it was a hot item that I’d pull out weekly, then every other day, and then one day – I just never put it away.

We fell in love with kinetic sand in our home, but I know not everyone knows about it or understands it or can see how it is different from other sensory materials. I sincerely hope this post can help.

Kinetic sand sits on trays on a hardwood floor. The trays are red and blue,

Can you make kinetic sand?

There are lots of recipes online for making some version of magic sand.

These methods usually involve buying fine sand and combining it with corn starch and oil. It’s a great method if that’s what’s best for your family and your needs.

For me, I’m good with buying Kinetic Sand and letting this be a “non-DIY” sensory bin. I literally cannot do it all and this is an easy outsource.

Here’s a link to one of the most popular magic sand recipes on the Internet, if that feels like a project you are interested in trying.

A child scoops kinetic sand from a bin. He is wearing a pineapple shirt.

How do kids play with kinetic sand?

It’s easy to overthink things with kinetic sand and worry it needs to be played with in a special way, but really: it’s just like any other sensory supply (think play dough, regular sand, rainbow rice).

Kids like to create with it. Build with it. Have imaginary worlds and cook fake meals with it.

Really: anything goes.

When you first get kinetic sand, I recommend setting it on a tray with a few measuring cups or kitchen utensils. Let kids figure out how they want to use it without any preconceived ideas from adults.

Here are the toys/supplies my kids use for their kinetic sand play:

How long does it take until kinetic sand dries out?

That’s the best part: it never does. Best practice is to keep it stored in an air tight container, but kinetic sand is not like its slime or play dough counterparts. The oil and silicone keep it from drying out.

If your kinetic sand does appear a little dry, it may be due to the climate where you live. Add a few drops of water to bring it back to life.

True story: I’ve left my kinetic sand out for my kids to play with since 2020. That’s not a typo. In 2020, I set it on a tray, pushed it under a dining room buffet, and never covered it.

My kids play with kinetic sand daily. Someone is always over in that corner of the dining room, tinkering, creating, imagining. And we never put the sand away.

Three years and the sand still feels brand new. Not one problem to report.

Play dough can’t last over night. Kinetic sand lasts years.

A squatting child places kinetic sand into a mold while sitting on hardwood floors.

How do you clean up kinetic sand?

Kinetic sand vacuums up really easily. No fuss, no staining, no problem. Just grab your vacuum and go.

Before I hit the area with the vacuum, I usually try and gather as much as I can into my hands to toss back into the bin.

But again: don’t over think this. It isn’t complicated like slime or play dough. Think of it like sand and think “how would I clean up sand?” Go from there.

We do not have any pets so this does make our kinetic sand clean up and storage journey a little different than if we had a dog or cat.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What age is kinetic sand good for?

Kinetic sand is not taste safe so you need to wait until your child is safely out of the “will try and eat sensory materials” phase. My kids first tried kinetic sand at ages 2.5 and 4. They loved it and it was a great fit for them at that stage in life.

Does it scratch floors?

I don’t know that answer! I keep kinetic sand on the carpet because I’m pretty careful with my hardwood floors and dining table.

Does it stain the floors?

I haven’t had any problems with kinetic sand staining, but I’ve only used their brown sand. I’ve used a different brand’s green and blue without problem. I prefer to stick with brown sand just in case.

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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