How to Make Sand Play Dough

How to Make Sand Play Dough

Laura @inspiremyplay

Founder of @inspiremyplay, Early Years teacher for 11 years and mummy to three gorgeous girls. I'm passionate about about the benefits of play in early childhood.

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For a fun variation on regular play dough try making sand play dough! This play dough can be whipped up in 5 minutes by adapting our usual no-cook recipe. Set out with shells and other beach treasures for hours of summer fun and exploration!

How to make sand play dough

I made this play dough a while back and it's been so popular on my Instagram feed I thought I'd detail exactly how we made it here on the blog. Play dough is always a hit with my kids and offers so many opportunities for learning, as well as developing those all-important fine motor skills.

I'm always looking for new ways to present play dough that are fresh and interesting. This sand play dough was a big success and the girls have enjoyed playing with it on lots of occasions this summer so far.

This play dough is made in exactly the same way as our regular no-cook play dough but with some added beach sand or play sand. The sand gives the play dough a great colour and makes the texture slightly grainy. It's still easy to mould and print with and feels similar to regular play dough, just a bit denser and more sand-like!

Play dough with shells and glass pebbles

For this particular activity I set up the play dough with a selection of shells, sea glass and glass pebbles that we have. Miss 3 had a great time making prints with the shells and creating pictures. It was her idea to create a fish using her beach treasures and I think she did a lovely job!

Play dough with shells and glass pebbles

We've collected most of these shells ourselves over the years but I've recently bought a set of shells from Amazon to widen our collection. They've proved very popular and are so interesting to explore! The glass pebbles also worked really well with this set up. We use these a lot in loose-part play and to make transient art or small world set ups.

Another way to play with sand play dough is to combine it with some blue play dough and make a seashore small world using sea creatures. Miss 3 absolutely loved this activity! As you can see her beach got rather busy!

small world scenes

Miss 5 also enjoyed this! I set out our Melissa & Doug letter stamps and she loved spelling out words on her sea scene.


What You Will Need to Make Sand Play Dough

  • 1 1/2 Cups of Flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Sand
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cups of Boiling Water


To make this play dough simply combine the dry ingredients, including the sand in a mixing bowl. Then add the coconut oil and 1 cup of boiling water.

Give the mixture a good stir. If it feels too dry, add a little more water in small increments until the right consistency is reached.

Once the mixture has cooled slightly, take it out of the bowl and give it a really good kneed on the worktop.

You're now ready to play!

For more details on how we make regular play dough you can check out our no-cook play dough recipe here.

How to make sand play dough