Argh!!! School holidays and Winter are not the best combination. Kids get fidgety and restless. Parents get cabin fever and the constant sentence of “I’m bored” are ringing in your ears.
How do you escape this without spending an arm and a leg? Well, we are here with a simple (but somewhat messy) solution.
This mixture is cheap and easy to make and will give the kids hours of entertainment. It is great for sensory skill development and old fashioned entertainment. For the older kids, it is a great science experiment. Seeing how something can be both a solid and a liquid.
Nowadays with more children, and adults, being diagnosed with Coeliac disease the standard playdoughs and sands aren’t able to be used. Oobleck is here to help fill in the time during school holidays and perfect for the littlies that like to explore by putting things into their mouths; it is made with all gluten free, edible ingredients.
Although it can end in a bit of a mess, clean up is relatively easy. Just throw all empty equipment into the dishwasher and any soiled clothes into a warm machine wash (scrape off excess mixture first).
Now to get prepared. You could really use any surface and if you’re lucky enough to have a good day (or an undercover area) where the kids can play you can just use the hose to wash it off.
2 cups cornflour (extra just in case)
1 cup water (extra just in case)
A large bowl, a bucket or large container
Now this method isn’t always going to be exact, the amount of water added to the cornflour will vary a little depending on your environment factors such as humidity, weather, temperature of water etc. don’t worry, we have included suggestions on how to combat this in the method below.
- Place your cornflour in a large bowl, bucket or large container and mix it around with a fork to get rid of any clumps.
- Add your water, one half at a time, and mix it through with a fork. It will be a very thick mixture initially, maybe too thick to mix properly but keep persisting whilst adding the remaining water. If the kids are helping you make this, you might want to ditch the fork and just get their hands right on in there. Just don’t forget the roll up the sleeves.
- Once you have all the water mixed in with the cornflour, is where the fun begins. Test your mixture by grabbing a handful and trying to make a ball; If your mixture is too watery and you can’t make a ball, add more cornflour, one tablespoon at a time. Mix it and test it each time before adding more. If it isn’t runny, like a liquid, when you pick it up then it is too thick. Add more water one tablespoon at a time.Mix it and test it each time before adding more.
- Once you have your mixture at the desired consistency, where it feels like a solid when you pick it up but turns into a liquid shortly after, your mixture is ready for its’ future of being knocked about by the kids.
- The last step is to add the kids, let them play around, experiment and let their imaginations run wild.
Give the kids some kitchen utensils to experiment about with; a colander, forks, a butter knife and a lemon juicer are great pieces that will give hours of entertainment. If you don’t want the kids to use your kitchen utensils, you could always try pieces of (clean) recycling such as a berry container, toilet roll, the list is really up to you.
If the gluten free quick sand is not enough on its own to provide hours of entertainment, here are a few ideas of fun mini games you can play with them and the quicksand.
- Make them turn away so they can’t see the quick sand. Hide an object within the quick sand and without looking, ask the kids to feel what the object is.
- Place a few items into the quicksand. Whilst the kids aren’t looking, remove one object and ask the kids to guess, by feeling only, what item has been removed.
- A ball race. Each child has to pick up some quick sand with ONE hand. The child who can hold their ball in their hand the longest without letting any of the mixture spill, is the winner.
Some other fun variations of Oobleck you could try; adding a few drops of food colouring to the water BEFORE adding it to the cornflour; adding some cheap craft glitter to the mix whilst making it; adding some dishwashing liquid to the water BEFORE adding it to the cornflour.
Now, when all the fun and games are over with, place the Oobleck into an airtight container or a zip-lock bag to keep for another day. You’ll more than likely need to add a tad more water to your Oobleck when the kids want to play with it again. If the mixture is well and truly played with and it’s time to make a fresh batch, do not wash it down the sink or flush it down the toilet as it can clog up drains…and badly! Instead, wrap the Oobleck in newspaper, put it in a bag or disposable container, then toss it in the bin.
The science behind it all
Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid. We know! If you’re not a scientist (like we aren’t) you are wondering “What the… !? What in the world is a non-Newtonian fluid?”
Well, it is a pressure-dependent substance. Meaning that when you move the mixture slowly, the suspended particles within the mixture have time to slowly move around each other, hence, the mixture acts like a liquid. However, when you suddenly try to move the mixture i.e. poke it, punch it, pick it up; the particles do not have enough time to move out of each others’ way, so they stay where they are and the mixture feels more like a solid. Make sense?