Homemade Play Sand {Moon Sand}

| |

My little grandson loves to be outside.  This past summer he very much enjoyed playing in the sand at the beach and being by the water. When I’m on babysitting duty he brings me his shoes and points to the door.  C’mon Grandma! Time for our nature walk!

walking Oct 2015-2

So with the cold weather approaching, I started looking for a way to bring some of the outdoors that he loves to the indoors – hopefully without too much mess.  Could I be a fun grandma and keep things kind of clean too?

I decided to try mixing up a batch of “copycat” sand, a DIY alternative to outdoor sand that you can mix together with a couple of your pantry staples AND that sticks together nicely for the kids to build and play with.  It was a success!  I laid out a big beach towel and let him have fun scooping and digging. Sure, there was a little sweeping to do when we were done, but it was still a pretty cheap and easy way to stay occupied indoors with something that kind of felt like the outdoors too.

Make your own play sand (moon sand) - easy to do with just flour and oil!

This homemade play sand is made to be like a product sold as Moon Sand or Shape It Sand.  It’s often white, but is also sold in colors. You can check it out on Amazon here: White Shape It Sand.  Sometimes a homemade version of this is also called Cloud Dough.  It’s a material that feels like sand, but you’re able to mold it into shapes and it will stick together.

To make your own moon sand at home all you need are two very easy ingredients:  Flour and Oil.

I used whole wheat flour and vegetable oil because I was going for a natural outdoor look.  It really did look like beach sand – and it stuck together in sand castle shapes almost just like moist beach sand too!   All we were missing were the waves lapping at our feet. 🙂

Make your own play sand (moon sand) - easy to do with just flour and oil!

I tried this with white flour too and it worked, but I must say I really liked the look and the little heavier texture of the whole wheat flour.  Another option is to mix white flour with baby oil for a whiter looking sand.  My daughter shared that the daycare she uses did a project like this also with baby cereal and coconut oil.

You can make any size batch you want too – just use the formula of 1/4 cup oil to every 2 cups of flour.

The recipe below makes a nice size batch for the little ones to play in.

Make your own play sand (moon sand) - easy to do with just flour and oil!

Homemade Natural Look Play Sand {Moon Sand}


  • 8 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and then add the oil and combine. I used my Pastry Cutter to get everything mixed together which worked very nicely.  Once the oil is incorporated into the flour, your play sand is ready.  You can give it a little test by picking some up in your hand and squeezing it together as you make a fist.  Does it stick together a bit now?  If not, mix in a bit more oil.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow container with sides so the kids can play. I used a rectangular Rubbermaid container which worked well.  It was also a nice choice because it has a lid which made storage easy when we were done.

Make your own play sand (moon sand) - easy to do with just flour and oil!

Bigger kids will have fun shaping this sand and building things, but even a little guy like my grandson (15 months old at the time of this writing) was able to have plenty of fun squishing around, scooping and dumping, and smashing the little shapes that I made for him.


Need a few more bright ideas?
Sign up for the monthly email newsletter to learn about my latest content and tips for frugal homemade living.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. You could try using white flour and baby oil and that should give you a mixture that results in a more white colored play sand.

      1. but is it goupey or sticky …i dont want that. I want white sand that is like dry and loose that can fall through your fingers

        1. It won’t be super sticky, but it will be a consistency that if you pick some up in your hand and make a fist, it will kind of stick together the same way damp sand does. So it will probably not be dry enough to just fall through your fingers. Sometimes craft stores sell colored sand and you might be able to find white (of course that isn’t a homemade solution).

  1. Just thought your readers should know that there is an ongoing recall of contaminated wheat flour that is making people sick. The FDA is advising consumers to not eat dough and to sanitize all surfaces that have been in contact with flour. Perhaps this recipe could be made safer by baking the flour in the oven prior to adding the oil.

    Below is the text from the FDA website regarding the recall:

    General Mills of Minneapolis, MN, continues to collaborate with health officials to investigate a multistate outbreak of E. coli O121, and is expanding its recall of Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour, and Signature Kitchens flour to include flour made earlier in the fall that may still be in consumers’ pantries. The recall is being expanded due to a newly-reported illness that appears to have stemmed from the consumption of raw dough or batter linked to flour produced last fall.
    Guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour. E. coli O121 is eliminated by heat through baking, frying, sautéing or boiling products made with flour. All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

    Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. E. coli O121 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, the very young, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

    Anyone diagnosed by a physician as having an illness related to E. coli O121 is also urged to contact state and local public health authorities.

    The recall affects the following retail flour products. It includes 8 SKUs (stock keeping units or UPC codes) of Gold Medal Flour, 1 SKU of Signature Kitchens Flour and 1 SKU of Gold Medal Wondra flour.

    If you have any of the products listed below, they should be thrown away. Consumers with additional questions or requesting a replacement should contact the company at 800-230-8103. Additional recall information can also be found at http://www.generalmills.com/flourdisclaimer iconhttp

    Here is the FDA link: ://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm509693.htm

  2. No grandchildren to make this for but your sweet grandson reminds me so much of our
    boys when they were little – right down to the white hair and little stripped shirts. Keep up the good work.

    1. That’s so sweet Kathy – I look at my grandson and he reminds me so much of my kids when they were young too who both had that very white blond hair.