Sensory Cornmeal Sandbox

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This craft isn’t even really a craft. It’s sandbox playtime. There is no final product and there is no instruction. All your kids have to do is play! Playing with something granular, tiny and loose never gets old. Whether it’s sand, cornmeal or rice, the appeal is the same as with play-dough: endless combinations, the ability to start over and over again, shape manipulation, and sensory experience. No matter the age of your child, there will always be some interest.

I always find my daughter playing in the sandbox when I go to pick her up from preschool. And it’s hard to pull her away. That’s sort of how I thought up this activity. In the sandbox, she’s always making ‘cakes’ and structures and sharing them with her buddies. Why not do this at home if she loves it so much? Granted, there are fewer large scale options for design in a baking pan sandbox. Lol. But the concept is still intact.

While crafting, you and your kids might want to take a moment to learn some fun facts about this meal’s featured ingredient:


Chid pouring cornmeal into pot


    • Cornmeal is the powder made from grinding dried corn kernels.
    • You can make so many things with cornmeal. Polenta, cornbread, pancakes, tamales, cookies, tortillas, the list goes on….
    • Cornmeal has a lot of nutrients, especially fiber, iron, and zinc. Together, these nutrients help prevent heart disease, strengthen your immune system, and help your body heal from injury. 
    • Whole wheat cornmeal is healthier than regular cornmeal. Regular cornmeal is steel rolled and then stripped of some nutrients in order to make it more shelf stable. Whole wheat cornmeal, on the other hand, is stone ground and not stripped of those nutrients. The processing makes whole wheat cornmeal more nutritious, but also more perishable.

Craft Benefits: Almost no set up ✔ Less than 5 supplies needed ✔ No oversight needed ✔ No rules ✔ For real, won’t distract you from cooking ✔ 

One Downside: expect a little mess. You can always put a sheet/towel under the baking pan to collect loose grains, or just have a broom handy at the end of play. 


Ingredient: Cornmeal

Corresponding Recipe: Rosemary Polenta with Roasted Veggies

May Support the Following Skills: fine motor (scooping, pouring), math (measuring), problem-solving, social interaction/collaboration 


  • 2 – 3 cups cornmeal
  • 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan (or whatever you got)
  • Things to play with, i.e. little figurines, cookie cutters, spoons, measuring cups, bath toys, etc.

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Consider setting up the craft before cooking so that your kids can get to work right away.

  1. Grab a baking pan (the bigger the better) & fill it with cornmeal
  2. You and your kids can pick out some things to play with in the sandbox
  3. Play!

Back to Rosemary Polenta with Roasted Veggies

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