If you’re anything like me, you may find it hard to plan crafts and science experiments for kids at home. With this last year of quarantine, I’ve been working on ways to make our small space work better for our kids (read about how I reorganized my kid’s arts-n-crafts cabinet here). After I had finally exhausted all of my painting and play-doh juices, it was time to plan some basic science experiments for my young girls.
I’m no stranger to a good mess (hello brownies with a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old), but I really wasn’t sure what to expect or even where to start. So, when we came across the new Netflix show Emily’s Wonder Lab, I was majorly inspired to start with what I know best: kitchen ingredients. Since then, we’ve been experimenting up a storm, and I’m writing this post to encourage you to try it too!
What exactly is Oobleck, anyway?
Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid named after a Dr. Seuss book and made up of just two simple ingredients: cornstarch and water (2:1 ratio). What makes this mixture so fun is how the “potion” (as my daughter calls it) reacts to different forms of stress. Hit it with some force and it acts like a brick, relax a handful in your palm and it oozes out like a liquid. And because this mixture creates an unexpected reaction to different forces, it can provide hours of fun for kids of all ages.
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- 0.5 cups cornstarch
- 0.25 cups water
- 7 drops food coloring
- In a medium stainless-steel or glass bowl, measure cornstarch.
- In a beaker or liquid measuring cup, measure water and mix in the food coloring.
- Pour colored water into the cornstarch bowl and mix as best as you can. The reaction will start immediately, and can feel a bit like mixing cured concrete.
- Start to handle and play! Have fun!
A few tips for this activity:
I recommend beakers, stainless-steel bowls, and a smock or two. While the mess can easily feel out of control, it cleans right up with water and soap.
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Mix the food coloring with the water, and don’t be afraid to go heavy on the coloring. The final color will dilute by half once the water hits the cornstarch.
The ratio is 2:1 cornstarch to water, but it’s easy to eyeball too. This can also be fun to observe the differences in reaction with different amounts of liquid and corn starch.
Some people encourage oobleck to be discarded in the trash to avoid clogging up the sink, but this isn’t necessary. Dilute the finished experiment with lots of warm water and you won’t have an issue.