Moms' Craft: Beach in a Box

For beachcombers, kinetic sand may be the next best thing to being seaside. It's a moldable, cleanable substance that can be sculpted in soothing ways — occupational therapists especially love its sensory properties. And, as MomSpeaker Jeanne McCullough shows here, it's equally appealing used as the foundation of an unexpected DIY craft gift.

Kinetic sand is all the rage these days, and I've been wanting to pick up a box for a while now, but every time I see the price tag, I flinch. I get it — it's supposed to be awesome stuff. But I'm cheap and there are a 100 recipes on Pinterest for similar products, which I've been pinning but never get around to making. Someone told me about a knock-off version at 5 Below called Sands Alive! So I grabbed a box figuring that it was worth the gamble for $5. You guys? This stuff is sooooo cool! Not only do my kids love it, but I could seriously play with it for hours. It has the consistency of wet sand, but the feel of flour. It's as messy as Play-Doh, but not nearly as messy as sand.

We had three little girl birthdays coming up, so I came up with a cute gift using Sands Alive. I bought some airtight Gladware, some small dolls and tiny beach chairs from the wood section at AC Moore (only $1!).

I dumped the Sands Alive into the container and threw in some seashells, and it makes the perfect little beach!

Just for fun, I personalized each container for the girls using paint pens. Kids love seeing their names on stuff!

I cut out the Sands Alive care instructions and taped it to the bottom of the container, then packaged them all together. It made for a really cute presentation!

Of course, my daughter wanted in on the action, so I gave her a little beach chair to use with her own Sands Alive and dolls. She played for nearly an hour. One of her favorite things was the seashells. There are tons of options for imaginative play, and it's an awesome sensory activity. This gift would also pair nicely with dinosaurs — "Tommy's Dino Land"!

My nephew turned 16, and his dad gave him his old car to fix up, so I wanted to give money as his gift. But I also wanted to give him a little something handmade. I personalized a Rubbermaid container and plopped some Sands Alive inside and Boom! Supereasy gift!

High school is stressful, so I thought this would be perfect to play around with during study breaks. Sure enough, he and a few of his friends were mesmerized by it — I wish I had thought to take a picture! A couple of high school boys remembering what it was like to chill out and play with something like Play-Doh. We all need to be reminded of this — sometimes it's really relaxing to just zone out and color with crayons with the kids or smush some Play Doh. This would be a great gift for someone to keep at their desk at work. It's not messy, and so far ours hasn't dried out.

Jeanne McCullough is a Montgomery County, PA mom. This post was adapted from her blog Mom Hearts Pinot.

Categories: MomSpeak