Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cloud Dough, Moon Sand, And A Fail

Today's favorite activity was inspired by two fabulous blogs. We are still participating in the play challenges (even though I haven't blogged about them all, we've had a blast with every one of them) and today's challenge was mixing concoctions from Hands On : As We Grow. Then I was catching up on some blog reading and discovered TinkerLab's great post on cloud dough. I had been wanting to make cloud dough for the longest time and had just never got around to it. I thought it would be perfect for today, although you absolutely do not need an excuse to make that stuff!

I figured it would be fun to make both cloud dough and moon sand to compare and contrast. We started off making the cloud dough. We used 4 cups of flour and a half a cup of baby oil. R measured and mixed. He absolutely loved the stuff! He immediately started pretending his fingers were ice skaters and renamed it snow dough. I loved it too. The texture is amazing.

Then we made the moon sand, or what turned into the sand plaster. It was a horrible fail. Maybe it was because our play sand was too coarse? It was extremely hard to mix and turned into a sand plaster that hardened almost immediately into a huge block of unpleasantness. My hands were red from the mixing and R was not impressed. We still compared it though and talked about the different textures and colors. R was quick to name his favorite, even though typically he is an "I like it all " kind of child that refuses to choose a favorite on most things.

I had given up and we were having a blast with the cloud snow dough when my mind wandered back to the store bought moon sand and it's consistency. What is it that they use?!? It was similar to the cloud dough, and yet different. So we decided to do a bit more experimenting. I used the earlier recipe for moon sand, but where it called for play sand, I replaced it with flour. This is what we did:

  • 3 cups corn starch
  • 1.5 cups cold water
  • 6 cups flour
Mix the cornstarch into the cold water until smooth(ish). Add one cup of flour and mix in. Repeat until all the flour is added to the mixture.

It is very similar to the store bought moon sand. It's not an exact replica but it made us happy. It looked similar to the cloud dough but had a different texture. We then compared and contrasted the cloud dough and the moon sand. It was neat to play with two different mixtures that looked almost identical but felt completely different. R said he really liked the moon sand, but the cloud dough was still his favorite. He was very vocal during this process and really got into comparing the mixtures. He was thoughtfully describing each aspect on his own. I loved listening to him.

We used kitchen utensils for play. He also made up stories as he explored. We had a lot of fun, and he insisted on playing longer on his own. I'm thinking we'll be playing with this again tomorrow!

So thank you ladies, for the inspiration and motivation. You helped make our day a fun one!

Have you been successful at making moon sand? Do you have a recipe that would be better than the one I improvised? I would love for you to share!


  1. Love this! So much freedom to explore and play. Sounds like even though it didn't work out perfect it was still some very fun and successful play!
    Sad part at this house is my flour is always too wrapped up in baking something for someone and can't be spared for play! May have to buy in bulk so I have more on hand.

  2. This is fascinating! What a neat experiment and your son seems super into it! Awesome job!

  3. I've never heard of "cloud dough" before - fun! I think I'll add that to our activities when we finally have our first too-cold-to-play-outside days :)

  4. Thank you all for the comments!

    Abbie, we buy the cheap flour in bulk for our crafts, because sometimes, it takes a lot. I started thinking about *how* much flour we use when we were playing that night. That night alone we used ten cups! :/ Which, that is not our norm by any means.. lol. But a couple cups here and there for play dough can still add up.

    I hope you like it, An Almost Unschooling Mom. It's very interesting. It's powdery and soft, yet can be molded into things. It was such a hit with my son, I'm sure we'll make it again. It's just now starting to get cold here. But it is dark really early! This was an after dinner activity for us one night when daddy was away at the fire station.

  5. Kristin@Sense of WonderNovember 12, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    This just looks like a ton of fun! I had a fail a while back with our goop. Sometimes I think it is more fun that way. My kids like to experiment and when things go wrong it just gives them an excuse to try something new.

  6. What a cute little guy and looks like he's having a great time! Thanks for your nice comment at Reading Confetti!

  7. Looks like he had a blast two. I like the comparison of the two doughs. My daughters had a great time making cloud dough as well. I am visiting from the Sunday Showcase and am now following you on GFC, Twitter and FB.

  8. That looks super fun. We haven't made cloud dough yet and just learned of moon sand - they're now on our to do list!

  9. You are so right, Kristin. I liked that he seen that something I thought would work, didn't and we eventually figured out something new. That's true experimenting!

    Thank you, Lorie. I'm rather fond of him :)

    I'll definitely check out your post, Vicky! Thanks for the follows!

    We are still playing with the cloud dough, The Outlaw Mom. It's so simple, but really is fun to play with!

    Thank you all for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!

  10. Great comparison between the two! Thank you for sharing this with us on The Sunday Showcase

  11. How funny... we made moonsand this week and I wasn't crazy about it, and I just saw someone's recipe for cloud sand and want to try it.

    I used a silica sand sand which I think was too grainy/gritty, but the kids still had fun with it (maybe playsand would have made the results smoother?). The cloud sand sounds much softer; how does it compare mess-wise?

    Thanks for sharing your experiment!

  12. I like the homemade cloud dough much better than the moonsand, Karlamcurry. It has the potential to be messy, but I wouldn't say it's *more* messy than moonsand. Let me know if you try it!

  13. I have never heard of moon sand so I guess I learned something new today!
    I think I might try the flour and baby oil with the kiddo today. I just hope he doesn't get grossed out- he tends dislike messy things. Great ideas, Joyce!

  14. We referenced your blog today while we tried out take on "moon dough" using your recipe. I mentioned your blog in my post. :) Thanks for the "recipe"

  15. Just made Cloud dough. Kids are loving it. My hands smell like when they were babies, so I'm happy they are happy....playing without fighting. Thank You so much! PS I made clothes pin people for them to play in the dough with. One turned into a cat!


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