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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kinetic Sand in Speech Therapy

I have always loved using Play-Doh during speech therapy sessions. And clay. And rice. But sand? No way. Sand is messy and in order to build anything with it, it needs to be damp. It has just never sounded appealing to me to lug sand into the speech room and probably end up staying late at work trying to vacuum it out of my classroom carpet. But then I discovered KINETIC SAND. This stuff is incredible. This stuff is not messy. This stuff is tons of fun. This stuff needs to be in your speech room.

So, what is kinetic sand? Kinetic sand is 98% regular sand and 2% polymer (polydimethyl siloxane). The polymer part is the same kind of thing that is in silly putty. It makes the sand have a slow-motion, stretchy, flowing, movement to it. And it isn't crumbly like sand. It kind of sticks together. And it doesn't get your hands dirty/dusty at all. And it is super super easy to clean up! Geekologie has a great video about kinetic sand you can view here

Kinetic sand is very easy to shape with molds or cookie cutters. It is also easy to roll up into a ball. It flows through your fingers with almost the consistency/flow of a milkshake and almost looks liquid like when is spreads out on the table. As I'm writing this I am finding that it is a little tricky to describe the awesomeness of kinetic sand. 

When I first experienced kinetic sand, it was on display at the mall. Brookstone had it in a large box outside of their store. After playing with it for two minutes, I bought a canister of it for each of my three children. At home, the kids and I can play with this stuff for an entire morning. After seeing how easy it is to clean and how much fun it is to touch, I knew that I needed some in the speech room. 

Now, occupational therapists have apparently been using kinetic sand for a while because it is such a cool sensory activity. In fact, ARK Therapeutic sells it and describes it as a "wonderfully calming sensory experience".  Indeed, it is. 

So, what can you do with it in speech therapy? Here are some of the ideas I had: 

1. Bring the beach into speech! Pour the sand into a shallow pan or box and add beach-themed items. Have students describe these items (hey, pull out the EET strand and use that along with this activity!). Or, target following directions as you instruct students how to place the items in the sand. 

I bought some decorative toothpicks and mini flip flops at Party City for this activity. 

2. Use in place of Play-Doh on word mats. Or, just have students form words with their target sound out of the sand. You could even get letter-shaped cookie cutters for this! Letter cookie cutters would be the best. I am probably going to order some. 

3. Find-a-sound. I know lots of SLPs that bury things in sensory bins for students to find. I've done this with rice and it was fun. But I've found everything is even MORE fun with kinetic sand so just start burying stuff in it and start having a good time. To be extra beachy, I buried nothing but flip flops during one session. The kids had to find pairs (matching colors). 

It is important to note that kinetic sand is NOT the same as "moon sand". I am not a huge fan of the way moon sand feels. It isn't as fluid and stretchy as the kinetic sand. There is an unbiased side by side comparison video on YouTube if you're interested. 

Where can you get your own kinetic sand? As I mentioned earlier, ARK therapeutic sells it. I got mine at Brookstone. I've also recently seen it a Michaels.

Here is the kind I have (from Brookstone):

Here is a picture of the kinetic sand I saw at Michaels:

I am looking forward to hearing if any other SLPs use kinetic sand in therapy. If so, what do you do with it? 

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