Hard – Permanent Sand Sculptures (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , September 21, 2008 8:57 pm

Last week for our sand Unplugged Project, I had an idea for making permanent sand castles which I had seen as a proofreading exercise in my daughter’s spelling workbook! (Spelling Workout, Level D, Modern Curriculum Press, p. 12)

Hey, you never know where you might find inspiration, right?  My kids vetoed me last week for this particular sand project, and chose to do something else instead, but I figured we’d get to try it for this week’s theme of hard.  Plus, since it was recently my sister’s birthday and she loves Hawaii, we made sand sculptures for her.

We followed the instructions in the spelling book.  We needed sand, cornstarch, and water.  The recipe called for 2 cups sand, and 1 cup each of cornstarch and water.  We doubled it.

Sand was easy.  We went out to our big sand pile and scooped up 4 cups of sand and put it in a big cooking pot. We then poured in 2 cups of cornstarch:

And 2 cups of water:

And stirred over low heat.

We stirred for a while.  It was very runny, but looked yummy, like melted chocolate ice cream.

After about 10 minutes we got bored and left it alone for another 5 minutes or so.  When we rechecked it, it had transformed into a solid, stiff lump!  I had to trade in my plastic spoon for a sturdy metal one or it would have snapped in two! It was so stiff that in this photo, the spoon is standing up on its own:

I had prepared the kitchen table with our craft tablecloth as well as a plastic garbage bag for easier clean-up.  We dumped the mixture out on the garbage bag to cool.

It cooled quickly and soon we were all playing with the warm, squishy, sand playdough.  It felt really nice.

Eventually, it started to dry and get a bit crumbly so I put out a bowl of water to sprinkle on it.  A spray bottle of water turned out to be even better, and more entertaining.

We shaped it and poked it with sharp pencils, toothpicks, even a funnel.

Afterwards we put our creations on plates to dry.  Here are the results:

The next day, we unfortunately discovered that my 2 year-old’s hand print and the starfish were breaking apart. The two sand castles however, were fine. I would recommend this project only for larger, 3-D sculptures, but the thinner, flat ones were disappointing.  But…in case you were wondering, the pot cleaned up fine!

PS: In reviewing last week’s projects, I saw that Meg had made something similar as part of her sand project, but used sand and glue instead of cornstarch.  She used molds to make starfish and they turned out really well!  Consider experimenting with molds for extra fun if you try this. Karen B. also made “sand clay” similar to our recipe and added salt to hers to slow spoiling.


Did you join in this week’s Unplugged Project themed hard?  If so, then please add a link to your project in Mr. Linky below.  If you didn’t join us this week, then feel free to browse the links below and read about how to join in for next week!


Next week’s Unplugged Project theme will be:



14 Responses to “Hard – Permanent Sand Sculptures (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. Michelle says:

    I bet my kids would enjoy this project. My girls are always knee deep in the sand box. Glad to hear your pot clean up just fine… I was wondering about that.

  2. Meg says:

    That sand castle is very cool! The Elmer’s glue probably wouldn’t hold together something big like that handprint either. But the consitency was interesting, and it was fun to mush between your fingers!

    Megs last blog post..Unplugged – Hard

  3. […] trip down south and all the plans I’d made for our Unplug your kids’ challenge for Hard went right out the window. Perhaps we’ll do them for this week’s fruit challenge so I […]

  4. Jaylene has veteoed lots of my ideas too ;) I really like your castles.

    Julie K in Taiwans last blog post..Obstacle Course

  5. dayna says:

    This is such a cool project…and I was wondering how the pan turned out :) The mixture sure looked tasty!

    These would be cool to make as table decorations for an under the sea or at the beach theme parties.


    daynas last blog post..Unplugged Challenge – Hard

  6. Heather says:

    Those are really cool sculptures. That is to bad that your little ones started to crumble. I am going to have to remember this one, because every time we go to the beach the boys like to bring back a bucket of sand.

    Heathers last blog post..Unplug your kids Project

  7. You are so much more adventurous than I! I am so impressed! :) Cool sculptures!

    Becky@BoysRuleMyLifes last blog post..Unplugged Project – Hard

  8. Christie says:

    Looks like fun. Cali wants Moon Sand and I’ve heard there is a way to make your own. I may have to start looking around.

    Christies last blog post..Laser Tag-Cori’s Birthday (part 2)

  9. Anna says:

    How interesting! A couple months ago I made a version of moon sand with my kids using the same ingredients only we didn’t cook it. Made for nice moldable, reusable sand. Must be the cooking that leads to the hardening.

    Annas last blog post..Campy Not Crafty

  10. Jenny says:

    CJ would have LOVED this project, from the warm squishy sand dough to the squirt bottle. I’m not sure which part she would have enjoyed more, to be honest! We’re definitely going to have to try this one.

    Jennys last blog post..It’s Raining!

  11. Im Sorry this is the correct link for our Fruit Project blog.

    Sorry I posted it wrong before

  12. Gerky says:

    I will have to add that sand sculpture to our list of things to do. This has been fun, thanks!

    Gerkys last blog post..A Wonderful Afternoon Enjoying Nature

  13. bob says:

    i tryed it and use a lil less corn starch and it dried slower so it didnt crumble nore flake apart

  14. […] something as simple as a trip to the beach, or perhaps a project you made with sand (like the permanent sand castles we made long ago for the Unplugged Project theme hard, or sand pictures that we made for the theme […]

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