What is oobleck, you ask? It’s kind of like gak, but in a more liquid state. Oobleck acts as a solid when you squeeze it, but then it drips like a liquid when you release the pressure from your hands. This activity offers yet another stellar social opportunity for children. It’s also a great sensory experience and chance to practice developmental skills. We had four children gather at the park this week and hope they went back to their friends to share the fun experience and recipe of oobleck. I loved when one little girl, about ten months old, explored the oobleck with her senses of touch, sight, and taste. She appeared to be having so much fun; when her mom tried to clean her up she yelled to tell us she wasn’t quite done. Surpisingly she didn’t seem to mind the taste, as for my charge she spit it out as soon as it hit her tongue.
How do you make oobleck? It’s easy! All you need are the following materials:
1 cup of water
2 cups of cornstarch
3 drops of food coloring
A bowl or bucket
Do this right on the grass; rain will wash away anything that ends up out of the bucket and on the ground. Have the children help you dump the following ingredients into the bowl. Mix the water and food coloring together first, then add the cornstarch. Encourage the children to dig their hands right in and mix the ingredients together. That’s it! Now you are ready to play! It can be quite messy, so try to play with your oobleck outside, or on a large tarp. Sensory activities are better when you don’t have to worry too much about getting yourself or furniture dirty; that way, children can play and explore freely without us adults stressing out about the clean up.
**Tip: Throw the oobleck away, not down your drain to make sure there is no clogging in the pipes.**
How can you make this an educational experience?
Always make sure to ask questions. For instance, you could ask “what does the oobleck feel like?” For nonverbal children, answer the question yourself as you manipulate the oobleck with them. You could say, for example, “This feels slimy and smooth. I wonder why it’s hard when we squeeze it, but when we let go it drips.” Keep those gears turning in their heads and use your imagination! Physical development via fine motor (small muscles) skills are constantly being worked during this activity. Can you get the children to pretend to make oobleck “meatballs” together? Squeeze the oobleck, and even bring a spoon to stir up some pretend cookie dough.
Come back next week for another Art in the Park activity. Have you participated in any fun activities outdoors with friends this summer? Please let us know on Facebook; we love to hear you share all your great ideas! Remember, if you live in Boston and would like to join us check out our Meetup.
Kelsey Plimpton is currently a nanny in Boston and has been nannying for five years. She started as a part-time nanny while earning her associates degree in Early Childhood Education. Kelsey has worked with ages 2 months to 15 years in both nannying and babysitting positions, since the age of 13. While working with children she follows their interests to help create activities targeting developmental goals. She blogs with SitterCycle.com and is the Early Childhood Coordinator.