Inclusive activities: Messy play and moon sand


by NicciLouise

Why do messy play?

Messy play is fun! Messy play is different! Children learn through actively using all their senses and messy play does just that [1].

But what about us adults? We want our children to have fun… but time is limited today. Do we really want all that mess?

Introducing moon sand; I was only introduced to it two years ago by the mother of a boy on the autistic spectrum that I was looking after. I was lucky in that I didn’t have to purchase it. However, it can be found in Argos, ToysRus and there is a whole site dedicated to it at It has become my new best friend and I have not met a child, including my daughter, who does not like it.

It comes with a handy carry case and scoops and trowels, is multicoloured and remarkable in that it can be shaped and moulded, but it does not need water for it to hold its shape. When it falls to the floor it can be picked up lightly as easily as blu-tack [1].

It can be squeezed, grasped, moulded, scooped and even poured like normal sand. It is also good to explore with the hands or feet as it doesn’t stick like normal sand; which makes it great for clearing up too. Even children with muscular weakness who find picking up the lightest things troublesome find that this sand is light enough to be scooped easily [1].

The only thing to note is that although it can float on water in its moulded state before it is dried and returned to its tray it can not be mixed with water as this would ruin it [1].

The carry cases include at the minimum scoops, mini sand castle tubs and animal moulds and I have even known it to entertain a watched 18 month old for half an hour and he never sits still for long!

Messy play relaxes muscles; improves the development of both fine and gross motor skills; develops a child’s self help skills and encourages turn taking and sharing. It develops concentration, observation skills, body awareness, communication skills and of course increases their developing bond with you [1]. So what are you waiting for? Go get Messy with quick to tidy Moon Sand!


1) T. Beckerleg, Fun with messy play, ideas and activites for children with special needs, London: Jessica Kingsley publishers, 2009.

For more free messy play ideas make sure you click to follow ‘Honey, I’m lost with the kids!’ and keep an eye on the ‘inclusive activities’ section.


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