Sand Dough Recipe

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This last week, I finally had a chance to try a recipe that I discovered in the Story of the World, Volume 1 Activity book…sand dough! You already know that we love salt dough, so I was curious to see how this compared.

It’s definitely messier to mix and a little hard on the senses (see note below), but it seemed to bake similar to salt dough and it painted well. We had trouble getting one of our thick pieces, a volcano that Josh wanted to make, to bake all the way through, but we had that problem with the salt dough last time, too. One of our thinner pieces broke. Because the piece didn’t seem thin enough to be terribly fragile, I’m not sure that the sand dough is as sturdy as the salt dough.

All in all, though the sand dough would probably work just as well as salt dough for a flat, immobile project, such as a relief map, considering the mess comparison, the ease of access of materials (it’s easier for me to pick up flour at the grocery store than to head to a home improvement or hardware store for sand) and the cost of materials (sand being a bit more expensive than flour), I’d probably choose salt dough. Sand dough would, however, be a viable alternative.

Sand Dough Recipe
4 c. sand
2 c. corn starch
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 c. hot water


Combine the first three ingredients and whisk together until they are blended well. (If you’re like me and have issues with the “fingernails on a chalk board” sound, this part will not be pleasant for you…it’s also messy, as sand and corn starch dust wind up everywhere.)


Add three cups hot water and stir. Then, heat over medium heat, stirring until the mixture becomes so stiff that you can’t stir any more. (A good indicator that it’s done is when you break your wood spoon trying to stir just one more time.)


Remove from heat and let cool 15 -20 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead a few times. If it’s still sticky, return to heat and stir some more. Store in an airtight container. Soak pan in warm water to remove sand residue.


To use for a project, simply shape into desired form and bake at 250 degrees (F), starting with 15 to 20 minutes, adding time as needed, but watching carefully.

Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. I am TOTALLY stealing that idea for the salt dough map. That might be just the thing for my 10-year-old, to spice up our history study. Thanks!

  2. I have a dinosaur activity tomorrow and I’m planning on using this for fossils… hopefully it works! If not 30 kids will be sad… LOL

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