I recently learned about a sensory play product called “Living Sands”. Have you ever heard of it? This stuff is incredible!
Learning Express thought I might like to try out Living Sands, so they gave me a box of it to play with so I could share my thoughts with all of you!
The texture and feel of Living Sands is almost impossible to describe. When I first looked at it, I thought it was kind of like Moon Sand, which is basically colored “sand” that you can mold and build with, without using any water. But once I started digging my hands into the Living Sands, I realized it was nothing like Moon Sand. It was soft like flour. But it didn’t sift and run over my fingers like powdery flour does. Unlike flour, it stretches and moves and then holds shape when molded. I told myself it kind of felt like “stretchy flour”, but what does that even mean?! I used my hands to pack it into a hard ball like you would do with play dough, and then my toddler and I flattened it out with the accompanying rolling pin and I realized it felt just like pizza dough.
What is this stuff?!
As I continued to play with it, I realized the properties of Living Sands are very similar to that of Oobleck (you know, that classic 50/50 cornstarch and water mixture that hardens when you touch it but becomes runny when you let it fall?). This sensory play material is fluffy when left alone, and it is extremely soft to the touch if you use light pressure. It becomes hard if you hold it and apply firm pressure and then, after you release pressure, it becomes light and fluffy again as it moves and undulates and falls to the ground. It really does appear as if it has come to life.
I have searched all over the Internet to try and figure out what the ingredients are that make Living Sands so unique, but all I can find is that it is made of sand and “natural ingredients”, whatever that means. The recipe must be top secret.
According to the box, Living Sands is antimicrobial, never dries out, and should be stored in a non-airtight container so it can breathe. I have been storing mine in a standard plastic container, and I just poked a few airholes in the top with a hammer and nail. Seriously, what is this stuff?
Included in this box is 1.5 pounds of compressed Living Sands plus four tools for play. I love that these tools can be used to promote and practice a variety of grasping patterns, including a lateral grasp with the yellow rectangle. You can, of course, always add in your own tools to expand your child’s play experience!
While I haven’t been able to use this particular sensory play material in my occupational therapy sessions yet (I’m still on maternity leave), I can see how Living Sands could be used and played with in a variety of ways:
- It could be a good “transitional” sensory material for kids who don’t like to get messy, or for those who truly have issues with tactile defensiveness. Living sands is dry to the touch and is not wet or sticky. As mentioned before, it is soft and fluffy, so the truly defensive child will be more likely to engage with Living Sands than, say, Oobleck or instant snow. It also does not have any scent to it, which is an added bonus for those who are sensitive to smells and/or are picky eaters.
- It could be a good sensory play material for those who are “seekers” of tactile input (that’s me!).
- It could be a good stress-reliever. I have found that the act of slowly and repetitively running my hands through the Living Sands has had quite the calming effect on me, much like working with play dough or clay. It could also be a stress reliever for those who need to squeeze and compress something when stressed or anxious, much like squeezing a stress ball.
- It could be used to work on fine motor skills such as tool use, fine motor grasp and manipulation, bilateral coordination, tactile discrimination, and hand strengthening as kids slice, flatten, roll, dig in, scoop, and build with the Living Sands.
- It could be used to work on all three parts of praxis: ideation (What should I do?), motor planning (How should I do it?), and execution (I did it!)
- It could be placed in a sensory table in a therapy or classroom setting, which would allow several kids to play and explore with it together while working on basic play and social skills (such as sharing space, materials, and manners).
I am fascinated by Living Sands and am so grateful my toddler and I were given the opportunity to try it out. Living Sands can be purchased at many locations and websites, including your local Learning Express. I think this is a fantastic sensory play material that could be used with kids (or adults) for therapy, learning, or just plain fun!
*Although I was compensated, all opinions, feedback, and amazement related to this product are 100% for real.
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In addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!
. . . . .Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.