Walking on the Moon: Creating Moon sand to feel the Moon’s surface

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Have you ever wondered what the surface of the Moon feels like? With today’s experiment, you’ll be one step closer (pun intended)!

Creating Moon sand with your child provides a great sensory experience while also talking about the Earth’s Moon. This experiment introduces the Moon landing, explains why our Moon is important, and even allows your toddler to do their own lunar excavation.

Talking about the Moon with your child leads the way to other fun conversations about our planets and solar system. And who doesn’t love space?

How to make the Moon Sand science experiment

Supplies you will need

For the Moon Sand experiment, you’ll need:

  • Flour
  • Oil
  • A shallow, larger container like a casserole dish or plastic storage container
  • Measuring cup – 1 cup
  • Spatula
  • Trinkets to bury
  • (Optional) Digging tools – we used small toy shovels and forks
  • (Optional) Measuring cup – if you want to have two separate cups for flour and oil
Supplies for the Moon Sand experiment

Before you start

I ended up using a mixture of whole wheat flour and white flour because that’s what I had on hand. In my opinion, using white flour is preferable, if you have it on hand. It’s slightly less coarse.


Here is how to do the Moon Sand experiment with your toddler:

Step 1: Pour 8 cups of flour into your shallow dish

Step 1 of Moon Sand experiment

The ideal flour-to-oil ratio is around 8:1 or 8:1.5.

Get your preschooler involved: Have your toddler dump the full scoops of flour into the dish.

Step 2: Add 1 to 1.5 cups of oil

Step 2 of Moon Sand experiment

I started with just one cup of oil to start with here. In the next step, you can decide if you want to add a little more oil to achieve the right consistency.

Get your preschooler involved: Your toddler can also pour the oil into the container here. Since this container was heavier, I had to help my toddler pour.

Step 3: Mix it up!

Step 3 of Moon Sand experiment

Start out using a spatula, since it will start off pretty messy if you only use your hands.

I simply mixed it enough with the spatula that there was no visible liquidy oil in the mixture, then used my hands to mix it after that.

You will want the consistency to be close to wet sand. There shouldn’t be a lot of clumps in the mixture, but it will hold its shape if you squeeze the flour/oil mixture together in your hand.

Get your preschooler involved: Once you have the initial mixing with the spatula complete, have your toddler dig in and start mixing the flour/oil mixture up with their hands! It’s a fun sensory experience for them.

Step 4: Hide your trinkets to go on a lunar excavating hunt

Step 4 of Moon Sand experiment

I chose small objects that were easy to bury: some pom-poms, a key, small screws from my toddler’s building kit, and other trinkets.

Once everything is buried, it’s time to gather your tools and start excavating! Here, you can talk to your toddler about the Apollo astronauts gathering lunar samples on the Moon. They gathered soil and rocks with rakes, scoops, tongs, and other tools.

Get your preschooler involved: Once all of the trinkets are hidden, have your toddler put on their invisible astronaut helmet and start collecting lunar samples.

The science behind the Moon Sand experiment

The Moon Sand experiment teaches:

  • Astronauts landing on the Moon
  • Why our Moon is important
  • What it’s like to find lunar rocks

How it works

When the oil is mixed with flour, it creates clumps of damp flour. Some of those clumps are small, and some of the clumps are larger. This represents the Moon’s surface: there are both fine powdery sand and rocks on the Moon’s surface.

Here is a direct quote from Neil Armstrong, when he first stepped foot on the Moon:

“Yes, the surface is fine and powdery. I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles.”

Neil Armstrong, 1969

Armstrong’s description is what we are recreating with the Moon Sand experiment.

You could even show your child a picture of Neil Armstrong’s footprint on the Moon’s surface to really drive it home! Here is the picture, directly from NASA’s website.

Teaching about astronauts landing on the Moon

I kept this short and simple: telling my toddler about how 12 astronauts landed and walked on the Moon. I added a short explanation about how each mission that landed picked up rocks from the Moon and brought them back so we could study the Moon.

Here, we are teaching:

  • We have sent people to the Moon before (and we plan to do it again!)
  • We collected lunar rocks from the surface that are still stored and studied today

Why our Moon is important

The Moon is a very important piece of our planet. It keeps our planet in a stable rotation, thereby leading to a stable climate, and is responsible for the tides on Earth.

These concepts are pretty advanced for teaching a preschooler. But, there are ways to explain why the Moon is important in a way that they can understand.

Here, we can explain:

  • The Moon is the reason we have the seasons we do. Without the Moon, our seasons would look very different!
  • Because of the Moon’s gravitational pull, we have low and high tides here on Earth. That means that the water gets lower and higher in bodies of water, depending on the time of day.

Finding lunar rocks

Lunar samples were picked up in every Apollo mission that landed on the surface of the Moon and are stored at a facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We have learned (and still have more to learn!) a lot of information about the Moon and its origin.

Here, we can explain:

  • Astronauts picked up rocks and soil from the Moon. These samples have been studied for a long time.
  • We have learned a lot so far, like where the Moon came from. It is thought to have been a piece of the Earth that was struck by another planet and broke apart to form our Moon.

More earth science experiments to try out with your child

FAQ about the Moon Sand experiment

What is the science behind Moon sand?

Doing the Moon Sand science experiment with a preschooler is a great way to introduce our Moon and its benefits for Earth, while also creating a sensory bin for the toddler. You can introduce how the Moon affects our tides and seasons on Earth, how we had astronauts land on the Moon to study it, and how the Moon was formed.

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