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7 Gifts for Sensory Seekers Who Love to Squish, Squeeze, and Mold

Angel's Autism/ADHD/Sensory Processing Gift Guide

Play-Doh has been a classic toy for sensory seekers ever since it was invented. Many children (and adults) love the squishy feel of Play-Doh, the bright colors, the way it can be molded and shaped, and even the unforgettable smell. However, these days, Play-Doh is not your only choice. If you know someone who loves Play-Doh, here are some other gifts they will enjoy!

Kinetic Sand

This is something I originally bought for myself, and then bought for the kids I worked with. It is colored sand that can be molded like dough. Some people compare it to wet sand, but I think the texture is much more pleasing than wet sand. It doesn't stick to your hands or clothing the way wet sand does. You can make it into a ball, and it will hold its form. Also, if you pick up a scoop of Kinetic Sand and hold it, you can see it moving by itself. I have had mine for about three years now, stored in a regular plastic lidded container from the dollar store, and it has lasted all this time. 

Sands Alive

I bought my Sands Alive at around the same time as I bought Kinetic Sand. It is more powdery and a little more sticky... it will coat your hands and stick to your clothes. Sands Alive reminds me more of the play sand I've made with kids before by mixing flour and baby oil. It is moldable, however, and it has a very soft, irresistible texture.

Moon Dough

Not to be confused with Moon Sand, which was a type of moldable sand that was on the market before Kinetic Sand showed up...this is Moon Dough! This very lightweight dough comes in a moon-shaped container and never dries out. I've had mine for many years now, and it still is in great shape. You can press it, mold it, or crumble it. When you make a ball of it and then tear it in half, the torn part takes on a feathery texture. It is rather expensive on Amazon, which leads me to believe that they may have stopped making it...but it is still available, so I wanted to include it on this list because die-hard sensory seekers might be interested in finding it. 

Mad Mattr

This is some very strange matter. When you first get it out, it feels hard and stiff. But the more you play with it, the softer it becomes and the more it expands. The description says that it never dries out, and this is quite true. I dug mine out to review it just now, and it was so stiff that I thought for sure it had dried out...but as soon as I started pulling on it and squeezing it, it came back to life! I had stored it in a regular Ziploc bag. It has a slight vinegary smell that some kids might not like, but it is a lot of fun to play with.

This stuff is a lot of fun, but a little messier than the other types of sand and dough on this list. However, it is the water that makes it messy, so it can actually be cleaned up easily. This stuff feels like sand. Drop it into a tub of water, and you can make underwater sand castles. Remove it from the water, and it is, weirdly, completely dry! The only difficult part about cleaning it up is trying to remove every grain of it from the water. We did it by using a metal colander...the kind with very small holes. 

Play Foam

This stuff is not quite as moldable as the others, but it has a fun texture that is similar to Rice Krispy Treats, but less sticky. It is made up of tiny foam balls, with some sort of sticky substance holding them together. One fun thing that many of the kids I've worked with have discovered is that, unlike other sands and doughs, if you mix them all together they will not turn into a brownish mess. Instead, you'll just have a large glob of rainbow-colored Play Foam! This stuff lasts forever and doesn't stick to your hands or clothes.

Aroma Dough

I've never actually tried this dough, but I've included it here because it looks like something I want to have. It is similar to Play-Doh, but it is specially made with a gluten-free recipe so that children who are sensitive to gluten, or have family members who are, can use it without worry. They are also infused with aromas, which many kids will enjoy. I love things that smell nice! Unlike some similar doughs, these don't use essential oils, some of which can be harmful to kids and pets if ingested. They use food-based aromas. (I'm guessing this may mean they use things like vanilla extract?)

While everyone loves Play-Doh, it can be fun to try new things! With these seven alternatives to Play-Doh, kids can have hours of sensory fun.

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