I had bought some packs of moon dough quite a while ago (always seems to be on offer in the Entertainer, you can pick up some colours for around £3 if you do fancy it!) but had never seemed to get around to trying it out. Towards the end of the summer holidays we had a few quiet days at home so it seemed like an ideal activity to keep the boys entertained. They do love any messy or sensory play sessions, and I always find these are the kind of things which will keep them all playing and occupied together for so long without any arguments or fighting – which is always a great result!
We had been sent a large oilcloth a while back from Wipe Easy Tablecloths which comes in really handy for messy play. I wanted to do the moon dough in the garden for the first attempt as I had heard it shatters and crumbles everywhere and makes a huge mess (which is partly true!). We have a great picnic table in the garden which is ideal for sitting outside and doing messy activities but it does have gaps in it and the oil cloth is a much better surface to work on than wood with substances like moon dough or play dough, so I covered the table and the workspace was perfect.
The texture of the moon dough feels quite unusual, it has a powdery and smooth feel to it. It is solid, but breaks apart easily – yet if you pack it together really firmly it will hold it’s shape very well. The boys really enjoyed feeling and exploring the texture.
Mr Z also really enjoyed mixing the colours. If you kneed together two colours, you can create a very smooth and consistent new colour. I would say this is easier to achieve than with playdough. He enjoyed selecting two colours the predicting what the result would be when mixed.
We also had some moulds to use. I had bought a moondough diner kit which comes with a burger maker, and pizza and fries mould. The boys enjoyed making these so we soon came up with the idea to improvise and make our own moulds too. We even used just small bowls. When you pack the moondough in really tightly then put the bowl upside down and tap it, the shape will just fall out. The boys were really impressed with the things they had made!
We continued this indoors the next day and the boys set about making some moon dough bricks using the same technique and a rectangular container.
The brilliant thing about moon dough compared to playdough is that it does not dry out, so you can keep it however long you want and go back to it, and it will still be good to use.
The downside is that it does really crumble up so we did loose a fair bit on the ground while playing with it outside. The (many) little bits that fell on the floor were not very easy to retrieve so I had to write them off. Luckily its very cheap to buy and we have loads of colours in stock, so I’m not too bothered if the quantity starts to diminish a bit with every use. You can see in some of the pictures little pieces breaking off. This is fine as long as they remain on the table or play surface. If you collect them all and pack them back together, they will go back together fine.
When playing inside, I laid the same oil cloth mat on the living room floor and asked all the children to stay on the mat to contain the mess. However still some of it ended up escaping from the designated area and going on the rug. It does hoover up, although at first glance when you see a moon dough covered floor or surface it looks like a disaster zone has hit! It does also wash out of clothes fine.
The best thing about it is the texture, I love the feel of it, and the boys all seemed to love the feel of it. They are all quite sensory seeking, and the more variety that can be offered the better. Moulding and pressing the moon dough in the hands is also good for their fine motor skills and will definitely work the finger muscles the more they play with it.
I have heard some parents say they hated moon dough because of the mess, but my verdict is that it’s definitely a great one to add to the messy or sensory play repertoire. It another texture to explore, and it’s lots of fun with loads of potential to expand the play in whatever direction you like so I would recommend it. Just do it outside or on a big mat!
You can see another of our previous messy play activities on the oil cloth surface here