Shape-it Sand isn't ordinary sand - it features so many wonderful properties that it almost seems (and feels) like magic!
The Shape-it Sand feels somewhat like a combination of sand and clay. Unlike regular sand the Shape-it Sand can be manipulated into extremely precise shapes and it holds its form extremely successfully. It can be arranged into simple shapes - such as bricks - or coaxed into elaborate creations! It provides a beautiful sensory experience for little hands. To be honest, it's also quite irresistible to grown-up hands too; it would make a wonderful meditation aid or anti-stress toy on an office desk!
The Shape-it Sand's unique texture allows for a child's imagination and artistic creativity to soar. The unique texture provides endless possibilities for formation and creation, so it is a perfect and unique medium for budding artists (or architects!).
The Shape-it Sand does not dry out so it can be used time and time again. This is a particularly valuable feature for use in classrooms as all teachers will be familiar with how expensive it can become if artistic materials need to be constantly replaced. The Shape-it Sand can be reused repeatedly and does not require any specific storage to keep it fresh.
The Shape-it Sand can be baked to preserve a sculpture. The baked sculpture can then be painted. This technique can also be used to offer a more challenging sculpture experience. The adult (teacher or parent) can bake a block of Shape-it Sand before presenting it to the child. The child can then use sculpting tools to chip away at it to unveil the masterpiece hiding within! To see an example of this process you can view this video on YouTube.
The Shape-it Sand promotes fine motor control as the child uses finger dexterity to manipulate into various shapes. The inclusion of the bonus Shaping Tool also helps to encourage the development of a strong and successful pincer grip.
The Shape-it Sand is water repellent. When sand is poured into regular sand it tends to soak in very quickly and the sand grains mix in with the water to create a muddy mess. Mess certainly has its place, and mixing regular sand and water can provide lots of sensory joy, but it does not offer a satisfying experience to children who would like to maintain their elaborate creations, complete with stable moats for their castles! The Shape-it Sand solves this problem by holding its shape while the water sits on top of it. In fact - the Shape-it Sand can even be 'wrung' dry, squeezed in the hand to let any little drips come out!
My favourite Montessori application of the 'Shape-it Sand' is using it to make the land and water forms. Since the Shape-it Sand repels water, but holds its form, it can be used to create the lakes, islands, peninsulas, gulfs and other landforms! For many years I have used plasticine to allow the children to make the landform models but plasticine is quite expensive and can be extremely hard to manipulate when it is cold. The Shape-it Sand can be reused time and time again, so it has removed a significant cost, and it can also be successfully manipulated in any temperature!
The children love to view our land forms and then use the Shape-it Sand to create their own versions of these interactions between land and water. When a child has finished making a particular land form the water can be poured out of the corner of the tray and the Shape-it Sand can be reshaped into the next land form.
The Shape-it Sand also has mathematical applications. It provides an ideal concrete representation of mass and physical volume. It can be used to fill containers (such as hollow geometric solids) to create moulds of the interior volume of several different shapes. These moulds can then be removed and the sand broken back down into grains in order to compare the amounts.
Shape-it Sand is non-toxic and is safe for little ones.
You might wonder - what's the difference between 'Shape It Sand' and 'Kinetic Sand'?
Shape It Sand holds its shape much more firmly (and, if cooked, permanently) whereas Kinetic Sand can be moulded but will then gradually let that shape melt away. Shape It Sand stays where your fingers put it, whereas Kinetic Sand moves as if it is has a life of its own! I recommend Shape It Sand for artistic endeavours, whereas Kinetic Sand is perfect for sensory experiences (and as a meditation aid for stressed-out grown ups!).