Some of the most popular toys are ones that offer a clear educational advantage; sand art sets sometimes get lost in the mix. Legos emphasize building skills, chess offers a chance for children to strengthen their problem solving skills, and Barbie—along with her myriad of creative accessories—has strengthened many a young girl’s imagination. These toys all have concrete purposes, but what about toys that appear to have no clear educational purpose?
Parents often overlook sand art sets when searching for toys that benefit children’s development. In fact, most people underplay the educational and developmental value of these art sets. Not only is sand a great tool for teaching children about textures, but it’s also a creative alternative to other moldable toys like Play-Doh. In addition, children can use colored sand as a three dimensional alternative to traditional 2D coloring books, which encourage children to color with crayons and markers. Sand art sets enable children to make crafts like jewelry, portraits, and bottle sculptures while teaching valuable skills such as color recognition, dexterity, and artistic expression. Thanks to these imaginative play sets, plain old sandcastles are a thing of the past.
Best Sand Art Sets for Kids
1. Spin Master – Kinetic Sand – 1.5lb – Brown
Afraid of the mess that a sand art set may bring? Kinetic Sand is a mess-free product that will wow children ages 3 and up. This product is fashioned after clay in that it only sticks to itself. Let it run through your fingers, drop onto the floor, and even get it onto furniture—it won’t stick. Kinetic Sand functions like a thick liquid (without the wetness), and can be shaped easily. Children can squeeze their way into a masterpiece or simply have fun watching this 98% sand and 2% polymers mixture move.
2. Melissa & Doug Sand Art Bottles
Create wacky sand designs with these uniquely shaped bottles. In addition to being an awesomely colorful way to experiment with sand, sets like these are great for teaching the mathematical concepts of ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ (i.e. Which sand bottle has more blue sand?). Each set comes complete with six bags of sand, a design tool, a funnel, and a scoop, and is recommended for children ages 4-8.
3. Super Sand Art Pen Toy (12 Pack)
Need help encouraging a child to write? Try exploring this set of decorative sand art pens for a unique craft experience. Children can decorate their very own ink pens with colorful sand all while learning valuable handwriting and hand-eye coordination skills. The quintessential party favor, this set of pens is recommended for children ages 3 and up.
4. Colored Sand Art By Numbers, Birds of Paradise
This paint-by-numbers sand set is perfect for teaching sequential order, colors, and dexterity. Djeco’s set strikes the perfect balance between simple and fanciful play. Djeco recommends this product for ages 6 to 11.
5. Genius Art Sand Art Painting – Arts and Crafts Kit for Kids
An ingenious tool that enforces the skill of following directions, Genius Art’s Sand Art Painting set allows children to create 4 separate art projects using sand markers. The set comes complete with a peeling stick, a tray to prevent messes, 4 paper frames, 4 painting cards, 4 poly bags, and 12 markers—all materials that children ages 3-12 will need to create each project. Older children will love the artistic independence that this set grants them, while younger children will appreciate the minimal supervision that the activities require.
6. ArtSkills Sparkly Sand Art
This simple set is ideal for creating quick, sparkly projects. Manufactured for children ages 5 and up, the Sparkly Sand Art set comes with colorful sand, glitter, and ready-to-peel picture designs.
7. Fun Express Sand Art Bracelets
These fun bracelets are wonderful for teaching hand-eye coordination. Children insert a slender funnel into the bracelet and pour sand inside of the bracelet’s plastic tube. It’s important to note that this set does not come with sand, but does include the funnel and bracelets.
8. Made by Me Create Your Own Sand Art Kit
Made by Me! advertises Made by Me’s Sand Art Kit as being a great addition to birthday parties or playdates. With 6 projects to choose from, this set is perfect for developing teamwork skills amongst children and their peers. The ‘Create Your Own’ Sand Art Kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions and all the materials needed to complete each art project. The manufacturer recommends this product for ages 5-15.
9. Sand Molds Kit (23 pcs)
Role playing just got a little easier with the Sand Molds Kit. This set comes with over 20 sand mold shapes that include animals, tools, and buildings for hours of fun. The Sands Molds Kit is compatible with Kinetic Sand, Waba Sand, Sands Alive, and Brookstone Sand (sand not included). USA Toyz recommends this product for ages 3 and up.
What are some great sand art sets that your children use? Share your recommendations in the comments below.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, NathanF.