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Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Crafting » Crafting: Kid Crafts » Comparing popular Play Sands, Doughs, and Slimes…FOR KIDS!

Comparing popular Play Sands, Doughs, and Slimes…FOR KIDS!

You guys know I have 5 kiddos…..and even though my oldest Ellie is 11, and she and the older kiddos have become super helpful, some days get a little crazy.  I often get asked how I balance it all and let me tell you a little secret—I don’t! ;) But I do have some routines that the kids know MUST happen, some shortcuts that I have figured out, and a whole lot of going-with-the-flow!  (Have you ever heard of “fake it ’til you make it”??  Yeah…that’s my mantra!  Haha!) But something that I have found to be really helpful, is keeping little projects or “special toys” right in my kitchen pantry.  That way I can pull out to keep little hands busy while I’m making dinner, doing dishes, or on the phone, etc.  One of those things that is always close by, are little containers of Kinetic Sand.  Have you guys heard of this stuff??  It’s this squeezable, moldable, non-sticky sand that is pretty much magical!

So when Spin Master contacted me and asked if I’d like to test Kinetic Sand with my kids….I said, “Oh gosh, we already LOVE this stuff!”  They sent me even MORE, along with the cutest little molds, and some great little tools to use with our Kinetic Sand!  You guys, if you’ve never grabbed a handful of this stuff, it’s time to DIG IN and just touch it!  You’ll be begging your kids (grandkids/friends’ kids) for a turn because it’s just so mesmerizing how it can be squeezed into a solid stiff shape and then with some slight pressure, start to shift and almost melt between your fingers like regular sand.  It’s the craziest thing!  And no, it’s not sticky and won’t get under your fingernails or mashed into clothing like a dough, but you can still mold and stack it! I’m telling you…..IT IS MAGIC!

We decided to put Kinetic Sand to the test.  I asked my kids to compare it to other similar sensory products — you can see how they rate them all below!

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And I wasn’t surprised at all that my kiddos were SUPER excited to have 3 MORE colors of Kinetic Sand to play with!  (We’ve had our Kinetic Sand for several years, but have only had 3 colors.  But we have 5 kids. Can you guess why that’s a problem around here?!?! ;) )  Oh, and Max was napping when we took these pictures so he won’t be making an appearance, but he loves playing with Kinetic Sand too!

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Kinetic Sand is made with 100% natural sand (plus a little magic added in) that sticks to itself, but it’s not dusty or dirty like regular sand.  You can press it into molds and then slide them out into these perfect little shapes, which allows for SO much creativity!

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But when you squeeze it, Kinetic Sand kind of turns into mush…and starts shifting and almost “moving”.

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Kinetic Sand will break apart and sort of drip out of your hands…but it won’t scatter like regular sand.  The tiny little grains of sand still stick together for the most part (almost like it’s magnetic), which helps so much with clean up!  (It won’t stick to clothes or skin and is easy to gather up if it drops onto the floor, but small bits can also be swept or vacuumed if you prefer.)

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You can also mold it into a stiff enough shape that can be cut through with a knife.  Gahhhh…..after having this stuff for more than 3 years, I’m still amazed by it!

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Oh, and how do we store our Kinetic Sand?? (Remember, how I keep it handy in my pantry?)  I bought these little totes with a handle on top, so we could keep our colors separate, but they are perfect to carry around and bring out one color at a time if needed.  (As a side note…..our old sand that we’ve had for more than 3 years and has been used a TON, is still as mold-able and magical as the new stuff we just got in the mail! Hasn’t dried out a bit!)

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Often times the kids just mold it, sculpt it, and squeeze it right there in the tote, making clean up even EASIER…while other times they plop it on the table/counter and play with it that way.

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Okay, so maybe you’re wondering how does Kinetic Sand compare to other mold-able/sensory type products that you may already have???  Well, I gathered up a few other types (and even made my own DIY sand to try and duplicate Kinetic Sand) and had my kids help rate them all, so we could show you how they compare.  And here are the 4 products that we tested:

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And here are the 7 criteria that we used to rate each of the 4 products, on a scale of 1-5:

  • Sensory Rating (How pleasing is it to touch/manipulate?)
  • Squishy Rating (How well does it squish in your hands and through your fingers?)
  • Moldability Rating (How well does it keep its shape and stay in the form you gave it?)
  • Playtime Rating (How fun is it overall? Is it captivating?)
  • Creativity Rating (Does it provide a variety of ways to be creative?)
  • Age Appropriateness Rating (Is this good for all ages?)
  • Clean-Up Rating (How easy is it to clean up?  This one is especially important to me…but my older kids are finally realizing that the messier something is, the longer it takes them to clean it up.)

First up—Play Doh.

I think we’ve all played with Play Doh and know exactly how it feels and how it reacts, etc….but they needed a reminder before rating all of the products.  So I gave each of my kids a brand new tub of Play Doh (which they love because you know how it goes with Play Doh, it eventually hardens and isn’t as easy to manipulate) and they got busy sculpting and rolling and twisting and squeezing.

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And when they were done, we scored each of the categories.  According to my kids, Play Doh scored pretty high. The lowest score was the Clean-Up Rating (which they gave a 3) because sometimes little pieces would get squished under their finger nails, fall onto the floor and get stepped on, or sometimes smashed into clothing.  Play Doh received an overall score of 29/35.

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Next up—Slime

I have a love/hate relationship with slime.  The older kids love it, but it’s harder for smaller kids to play with because it can get out of hand quickly and start dripping and slopping everywhere.  But since Max was napping while we were doing this, it wasn’t as bad to keep under control, as long as everyone stayed around the table. But the kids loved squeezing and stretching and manipulating their blobs of slime to do really ooey gooey things!

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However…it was bound to happen.

And Chloe was the victim.

Yep, it attached itself to her shirt and once it adheres to fabric, FORGET IT!!!

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Have you ever tried picking it off?  Yeah, not happening.  It burrows down into every single thread of that dang fabric.  Blah.  But you guys, I FOUND THE BEST WAY TO GET OUT SLIME!!!!  I had to yell that because it works EVERY time!  Place the slimed section of fabric into a small bowl with warm water, add white vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes, rub it together…and it dissolves the slime.  Whew!  (But still kind of a pain, grrrr!)  Oh, and you don’t even have to do it right away.  I have tried this on a spot that had dried for several hours.  The warm water helps re-hydrate it, so don’t freak out!

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Anyway, time to score the slime.

The kids all agreed that even though slime is so fun and drippy and ooey-gooey, you can’t do that much with it.  You can’t build with it or get very creative with it, so they don’t play with it as long as other things.  So even though the Squishy and Sensory ratings were pretty high, it didn’t do well in most other categories.  Slime received an overall score of 18/35.

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Next up—Kinetic Sand

As I explained above, we have been playing with Kinetic Sand for several years and to be perfectly honest, we already play with it more than Play Doh and Slime.  But I told the kids we needed to rate it the same way we had rated the other items.  They kept that in mind while we played with our new colors, molds, and tools that Spin Master sent us.  They got right to work…

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You can buy Kinetic Sand in bigger bundles, but you can also buy it in these cute little sand castle molds that come with a lid so it can also be stored in smaller amounts too.  But once you press it into the mold and then tap it onto the table, it slides right out, perfectly smooth!

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Kinetic Sand is such a great sensory item that also helps develop fine motor skills, which I LOVE!!  (It’s also gluten/casein/wheat free…..so it’s safe for kids who are allergic to ingredients in Play Doh.)

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It really is so fun!  You can have all of the fun of playing with sand on the beach, without any of that sticky dusty mess that comes with beach sand.  And then the best part…smashing your creations, of course!

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Even though you can get really creative with Kinetic Sand and create some pretty cool things, my very favorite thing is to squeeze it into a tight ball…

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….then squeeze it and watch as it just drizzles out of your hand.  Go on, try it.  It’s so stinkin’ addicting. ;)

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Okay, time to rate the Kinetic Sand.

As Ellie called out each category, I reminded them what each one meant, but stayed pretty quiet about my own opinions as they shared which number rating they would give it.  Kinetic Sand scored pretty high like Play Doh, but actually scored a little higher.  (I would agree with the score below that Kinetic Sand is easier to clean up than Play Doh….and doesn’t end up in Max’s mouths as often as Play Doh either because of the sandy texture, whereas Play Doh has a texture more similar to real food.)  They also gave Kinetic Sand a higher sensory rating than Play Doh because it’s just so mesmerizing to play with and you just can’t stop touching it.  Kinetic Sand received an overall score of 32/35.

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Lastly—DIY Sand

Okay guys, here’s the deal.  I have seen a TON of little DIY recipes floating around to make your own kinetic sand and have always wanted to test them out to compare.  So when we decided to rate these different sensory products, I knew I wanted to try making some.  So I looked up several recipes and then tried 2 different ones.  And you guys know I am a SUPER FAN of figuring out how to make things on my own (that’s kinda my whole blog…ha!), but I just couldn’t get this one right.  Maybe it’s because we’ve played with Kinetic Sand for so many years and I know what it should feel like and how it should react when squeezed and smooshed, but these recipes just weren’t turning out the same AT ALL.  You could use the sand with the molds and pop them out and they would stand, which was encouraging, but they wouldn’t hold together the same way and would often times crack.

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Also, after playing for a while, the sand dried out and turned back into messy powdery sand.  So, it kinda felt like the recipes only produced a wet beach sand for us, nothing more.  (And believe me, I even played with the recipes and added more corn starch, less dish soap, more dish soap, less water, more water…nothing really helped.)

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Okay, time to score the DIY Sand.

To be honest, this stuff was kinda disappointing, but the kids still had fun playing with it. Because what’s not fun about having piles of sand in the house and all over the table?!?! ;)  But they gave it scores of 2’s and 3’s and even a 4 for age appropriateness because they said Max could play with it.  But uhhhhh, I’d have to disagree because I’m not giving that to Max in the house because as he plays with it, it’ll get a fine dusting of sand everywhere and won’t stick together like Kinetic Sand and Play Doh do.  DIY Sand received an overall score of 19.5/35.

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And as a final overview of how all 4 scored….Play Doh=29, Slime=18, Kinetic Sand=32, DIY Sand=19.5

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Anyway, it’s always fun to have a variety of really good sensory toys and products that keep little minds busy and happily creating…but if you haven’t added Kinetic Sand to that collection, it’s TIME!  (You’ll thank me once you see how long it keeps them occupied while trying to make dinner! Ha!)

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Thanks again Spin Master for spoiling us with even more of something that we already LOVED!  (And now no more arguments about who gets their own color and who has to share!)

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You can find your own Kinetic Sand HERE!

-Ashley

 

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This post is sponsored by Spin Master.  However, all opinions are mine and have been presented openly and honestly…but let’s be real, I would never share anything that I didn’t absolutely love and support.  Thanks for supporting the brands that support this site! :)

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
Comparing popular play sands, doughs, and slimes…for kids!
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Comments

  1. Misty says:

    The link for where to get the kinetic sand isn’t there/not working just FYI. Thanks for the comparison! I’ve played with kinetic sand when they’ve had it sitting out to try in stores and it really is so mesmerizing but I’ve never bought it for fear of it being too messy. I’ve just stuck with play dough. I’m thinking the small sets of these might be a fun stocking stuffer this year now that I’ve read this comparison!

  2. Rachel says:

    Awesome, I would have loved to join!
    I’ve tried out another version of homemade sand that is 8 parts flour and 1 part baby oil. It looks very similar to the Kinetic Sand, which I haven’t yet tried out. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

  3. Eileen Silkeileen says:

    I can hardly wait to come for a visit and try out the new “sand”. It looks really fun! Love Grandma

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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