Oobleck is one of those classic recipes for fun that has been around for a long time. I think it is absolutely essential for mothers of younger children to have this activity in their rainy day arsenal. This activity is not only messy and hands-on (two VERY important qualities for young kids), but educational and FUN too! The name “Oobleck” comes from an older Dr. Seuss book (that is definitely worth checking out!) called “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” In the book, the disgruntled King wishes for something other than the typical forms of precipitation to fall from the sky…..and he gets his wish….sticky, gooey oobleck….all over the kingdom. (The book is great for weather units, or for teaching the moral of “you may not always truly want what you think you do…”)
I am so excited to share this with you (and was thrilled to introduce this to my kids!) When I worked at a daycare, we used to have this out as a sensory center at least twice a month. It was always a big hit. In my kindergarten classroom, I used Oobleck to teach my students during our solids, liquids, and gases unit. Oobleck is one of those mystifying substances that is both a liquid and a solid simultaneously. It truly is a scientific wonder….At first glance, it looks like a liquid. (Almost all kids will tell you it is a liquid before they touch it.) Then, when a child goes to feel it, it feels like a solid, and then will turn into a liquid, then back to a solid….so fluidly…amazingly..(The nerd term for oobleck is non-Newtonian, due to its lack of constant viscosity.) I highly encourage you to make this with your kids. Playing and learning when combined can be so powerful. Never stop seeking out ways to teach your children through play!
Here we go! To get started, you’ll need one container of corn starch. You’ll use the whole container, but I got mine for $1.04, so it’s pretty affordable.
Since I was doing this with my two older children, wisdom told me to make TWO separate bowls. I simply dumped the whole canister of corn starch into two large bowls. It was fun to stop and let my kids explore the plain corn starch. (Allowing your child to touch, feel, and explore with their senses is SOOO monumentally important! Let them experience all aspects of what you are doing! Touching is learning!)
Next, get out your water. You won’t need very much…about a cup or so will do. The great thing is that if you have any kids who are prone to putting everything in their mouth, this recipe is all-natural, so they will be safe! Corn starch and water are all you need to make oobleck!
Pour your water SLOWLY. If you add too much, the effect will not be as great, and it will not be very much fun to play with. You want to add and stir until the substance is slightly chunky. You will need to test it with your hands as you go. Oobleck when done correctly will feel like a solid on the bottom of the bowl. When you scoop some up and apply pressure (in a tightly clenched fist for example) it will act as a solid. When released, it will “melt” into a liquid. Stir and feel. Stir and feel. Your hands WILL get dirty and that should NOT bother you!
Then, sit back and let your kids play and explore! I love love love sensory play. This is such a great experience for your kids. Try to enjoy the moment, and not freak out about the gooey mess now covering your table…and children…(They are both washable!) (We added a few drops of food coloring to our oobleck to make it more fun. The oobleck in the Dr. Seuss book is green, but my children wanted yellow oobleck!)
As we were playing, our discussion was so rich with great language! I was able to use lots of great adjectives with my kids…gooey, sticky, gooshy, squishy….Our conversation was natural, and yet so much learning was going on. We talked about what it felt like, looked like, smelled like, etc.
As a shout-out to common sense, I’d like to note that this should absolutely be done in your kitchen. Don’t hate on my non-mopped floor, but I wanted to show you that it can (and WILL) get on your floor, your table, and your kids! Kids will be kids, and messes will happen…BUT, it will wash! A few squirts of Mr. Clean later and your table will be back to normal.