Tag Archives: Sensorial

Summer of Mess: Colored Noodles

2015-08-27 15.33.55Another fun sensory experience from 150+ Screen Free Activities. Cam actually did this one on her own. If I had been there she might have stuck with it longer, but she still played for about 15 minutes which for a messy activity is great for her. 

The idea is simple, cook some noodles, put them in a plastic bag and then add a splash of food coloring and water. I chose blue and green and then added some plastic sea creatures. Also per the book I added a pair of scissors and, interestingly, she was more inspired by those. I am still finding tiny pieces of noodle stuck to my feet when I walk through the kitchen (okay, not exactly, it’s mostly dried up by now).

2015-08-27 15.33.42If you try this… 

…put out the splat mat. Cooked pasta is nasty when it gets stepped on so the more you can contain it, the better.

…you can do uncooked pasta. It’s more like the colored rice. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of cooking the noodles first or you want it to last longer, then you might try that. 

…the scissors (a suggestion from the book) were brilliant. Cam had so much fun snipping away. 

Summer of Mess: Colored Rice

2015-08-12 09.25.56 Making colored rice is incredibly simple. I scooped out a cup or so of rice into a Ziploc bag, mixed a splash or two of food coloring with some rubbing alcohol in a small dish then dumped that on top of the rice. Then I zipped up the bag and shook until it was fairly evenly coated. 

I did a rainbow of colors and laid them out to dry in the sun. 2015-08-12 13.19.31It took a couple hours, but the rubbing alcohol dries out pretty quickly. Then I told Cam we were going to make tie-dye rice and mix all the colors in a box. She was so excited and got out her metal play dough molds. There was a lot of scooping and pouring. I mixed in some magnetic letters for her to find and match up to their outlines. She was less interested in that and more interested in cooking with it, making cakes and pies and soups. 

2015-08-12 13.19.18If you try this…

…make sure the rice dries all the way before playing with it. Otherwise the food coloring will get all over your hands.

…use liquid food coloring. The gel stuff doesn’t dissolve well in the rubbing alcohol.

…this stuff pours nicely so get out cups, bowls, scoops, and funnels. 

…it keeps for awhile so make sure you can dedicate the bin you’re using to the rice for a week or so.

…also get ready to be sweeping and vacuuming rice up for the time it’s out. 

Summer of Mess: Soap Foam

2015-08-06 17.14.14This is an activity I came across on Pinterest. I had planned on making colored beans to put in a bin, but for the second time this week discovered that I don’t have the material I need. *Sigh* We did however have several bars of soap that I had bought to do this back in May so I decided to break it out again.

2015-08-06 17.14.26All you do is pop the bar of soap on a plate and put it in the microwave. It foams up, but not in the way you would expect soap to foam up. It resembles whipped cream and is soft, crumbly and smooth to the touch. I microwaved a bar and half for about a minute. You can always add more time and I err on the side of less time because our microwave has the power of an atomic bomb. 

Cam was pretty excited to do this again and she got out some little pipettes and asked for a dish of water. We laid out the splat mat so the floor wouldn’t get slippery and put the foam on a tray. I would say Cam was engaged for a good 10-15 minutes squishing and rubbing and dripping water. 

2015-08-06 17.14.34If you try this…

…it’s got to be a soap that’s fairy light. We used Ivory, but I suspect other brands would work.Bar soap, especially Ivory is really inexpensive (a couple dollars for three bars). What I think is happening is that the moisture in the bar of soap is heating up and essentially boiling which causes the tiny air pockets to expand in the bar and pushes the soap up and out. I suspect if you have a denser soap, such as one with a lotion in it, it will have a more difficult time foaming up. 

…remember the foam will be hot coming out of the microwave. Don’t give it to your child right away. Let it cool. And know that it will remain hot in the middle so breaking it open might be a good idea. 

…you can cut the bars of soap in half and make less. Or I suggest cutting them in half to cut down on the microwave time and to ensure that most of the soap foams up. 

…don’t do this with kids who put things in their mouths. Eating soap is not such a great plan. 

…clean up is easy! Your kids already all soaped up. Just rinse and they’re clean. Same with the floor or splat mat, it’s soapy so a few good wipes cleans it up nicely. 

2015-08-06 17.16.18

Cam said this looked like a piano.


Summer of Mess: Ocean World

2015-07-30 11.52.59It’s been really hot here this week so I decided to do another ice excavation/exploration. I took two plastic bowls and froze some sea creatures and stones in layers. The effect was pretty cool, but Cam was ready to go in after about 10 minutes because it was just so hot. That and all the ice had melted. 


2015-07-30 11.53.17So freezing in layers was pretty easy:

  • Choose a smallish bowl (I used our IKEA children’s bowls) fill the bottom with a thin layer and put it in the freezer for about an hour.
  • Once it’s firm enough to take some objects on it plus more water, layer in your ocean bottom (or whatever ground cover you want). Don’t cover all the ice on the bottom, you’ll need some exposed to the next layer of water to keep the ice “cube” solid. Pour water into the bowl and fill it up enough to cover the tops of your bottom objects. At this point I also added in a plastic eel in one bowl and a starfish in the other.
  • Freeze for another hour or so until the layer of ice is fairly solid. The time this takes will, of course, be dependent on how large a bowl or container you are using. To keep track of time I set our kitchen timer which kept me from completely forgetting about them.
  • Again remove the bowls from the freezer and add another layer of objects. This time I put an octopus and a ray in them. Then I filled up nearly to the top with water and popped them back into the freezer for two days until we were ready to use them.
  • When it was time to play, I filled the water table and dumped them right in. In a couple minutes the bowls slid right off and Cam could see the bottom and top layers. The ice was not clear which made for some fun discovery of what was in the middle. 

Summer of Mess: Cloud Dough

We made cloud dough yesterday and it was a lot of fun. Cam still doesn’t like to get too messy, so it really only held her attention for 15 or 20 minutes. It’s very simple to make: use a ratio of 8:1 flour to baby oil. I found this a little dry so keep the bottle of baby oil around to splash in some more.

If you try this…

…our clay toys were fun in this. Cam got them out and even though they didn’t work perfectly because the dough was so crumbly they worked well enough.

…little dishes and molds are also fun. We had a few out. Just know that the dough can really get packed into them and be difficult to get out. 

…have your child help you mix it up. Creating the activity extends it and adds to the fun. We started mixing with spoons then dug in with our hands. 

…know that because this is made with flour it can get gloppy if you clean up with water. I rinsed Cam off outside, but swept up as much as I could inside. 

…look for unscented baby oil if you or your child is scent sensitive. 

Summer of Mess: Silky Play Dough

IMG_6261I came across this blog post some how, possibly through Pinterest, and the dough just looked so inviting. I had planned another ice activity, but bumped that in favor of this dough. It was really simple to whip up and Cam was able to help me mix and knead it. She also had a blast playing with it. She got out all the little metal gelatin molds I have for her play dough and she baked a huge cupcake. She even wanted to mix up more. 

The ratio of cornstarch to water is 2.5:1. We did a half recipe (so, 1 1/4 cups cornstarch and 1/2 cup conditioner) and it made a good-sized lump of dough. 

IMG_6263If you try this…

…know that it will smell quite strongly of your conditioner. So if you or your child is sensitive to scents choose a lightly- or unscented conditioner.

…I think I made this several years ago with hand lotion and corn starch. You could certainly give that a try too. 

…the dough, being made from cornstarch and a semi-liquid, has properties a lot like oobleck. It was really strange to see this stuff that looks like a dough but acts like oobleck which tends to a lot more liquid. When you squish and knead it, it firms up and even gets a bit crumbly. But if you hold a glob in your hand, you can feel it getting oozy and if left sitting on the table it kind of oozes out. It’s not nearly as runny as oobleck, but it gets soft. 

…you could probably color this either with powdered coloring or a few drops of liquid water color or food coloring, but it’s totally not necessary. 

Summer of Mess: Paste Paper

IMG_6259This was a lot of fun, but didn’t go exactly as the Tinkerlab book seemed to think it would. The basic premise is you make a gelatinous paste with cornstarch and water then color it with food coloring or liquid watercolor. Then your child “paints” with it on paper.

Cam glopped it on and I set out a number of scrapers (no brushes, although you could put those out too). She also likened the texture to snot and poop, but it didn’t stop her from digging in. The actual art portion of the activity lasted about five minutes and then devolved into her rubbing it ALL OVER her legs. It got in her hair, on her diaper, and on her shirt. However, it was so easy to wash off. So easy. I popped her in the shower and hosed her down with the shower wand. Easy peasy. I had used liquid water color so the color mostly washed out of the clothes and didn’t stain her skin.

I was actually really impressed. Cam is a lot like me and doesn’t like to get messy, dirty, or have weird textures on her hands. So the fact that she rubbed it everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) was a big change for her. I think maybe the texture was smooth and wet enough that it didn’t bother her. 

IMG_6260If you try this…

…do it outside or on a large splat mat. Things will get messy, as they should.

…this actually makes an EXCELLENT color mixing/color theory lesson. The paste mixes together really well and makes other colors. 

…bear in mind that this is process art. It’s unlikely that you will get anything you want to frame out of this, unless your child is good with texture. 

…food coloring will stain their skin, and this could end up all over. Use liquid water color if you’re worried about it or put on old clothes that can get stained.

Summer of Mess: Ice Excavation

This was the perfect activity for a hot day. It took some prep effort, but was worth it. The basic idea is you freeze a bunch of stuff in water then pop out the giant ice cube and let your kid pick at it to get the stuff out.

I used a deep plastic cup and layered items, and this is where the effort comes in. A few days in advance you have to start with your first layer and let it freeze fairly solid. Then you can add more things and more water. I kept forgetting to check on it so it took me four days to add four layers. I suspect if you really keep your eye on it you could manage to get a number of layers within 24 hours, but set a timer. 

We did the activity on a nice hot 100 degree day. I filled the water table and put the cup in. In a few minutes the ice cube floated out and Cam was able to see all the treasures hidden in it. The ice melted pretty quickly because it was so warm, but Cam had a great time trying to pry stuff out, pushing the cube around and finally eating it like a popsicle. 

If you try this…

…be sure to do it in layers. That made it A LOT more interesting. You could theme the ice cube/layers (pirate treasure, color, etc.) or even go rainbow or make it a mini world with plastic animals and plants and things. 

…it would make a great experiment to time how long it takes the ice to melt. I was even thinking of doing it again when it’s cooler, maybe this fall before the water table gets put away, and see if the ice lasts longer.

…be sure to try a mix of objects. You could do cars, animals, loose pieces, even sponges. 

Summer of Mess: Oobleck

IMG_6257One of the most basic science/sensorial projects. Mix water and corn starch and it makes this funky liquid/solid. It will drip and run, but it also becomes firm if pressed, patted or squished into your hands. 

This project went a lot better than the marker explosions and entertained Cam for 30 minutes. Plus she asked to do it again! I put down a splat mat on the kitchen floor then dumped a box of cornstarch into a tub. I had Cam pour the water in and mix, first with a spoon then with her hands. We got out some dinosaur figures and our plastic play dough toys. I also threw in a colander. There ended up being a bit too much water so it was a little too runny, but it sat out on a warm day and by evening the consistency was a lot better. Ultimately it didn’t matter, Cam loved it.

IMG_6258If you try this…

…know that if it falls on the floor it will dry fairly quickly and can be easily swept up.

…add some food coloring. I didn’t have time or the inclination to do that, but it would make it even cooler. 

…add the water slowly. I didn’t know the ratio so we just poured and mixed. This lead to oobleck that was a wee bit too runny. 


Summer of Mess: Sink or Float?

IMG_6248This was a perfect activity for a hot day. We gathered up a bunch of objects to test if they would sink or float. We carried them outside to the water table and tossed them in one by one. 

The most interesting conversation we had:

Me: Do you think you would float?

Cam: Yes, because I breathe air.

Me: Are you thinking about your lungs? [I thought this might harken back to a conversation she had last week with my stepdad about lungs and air.]

Cam: Yes.

IMG_6250 IMG_6251

If you try this…

…model what it means to make a prediction. I asked Cam each time we tossed in another object to make a prediction and it took her a little while to catch on to what I meant even with an explanation. I think it would have been faster if I asked her to make one and then modeled it myself. 

…be sure to get a variety of objects including bowls and containers. These are harder to know if they will sink or float. You can also fill them up with water and see if they float when full. We put in several of these and I’m really glad we did because it led to a discussion of boats and buoyancy. 

…this is a great time to break out the loose parts. We got out jewels, rubber bands, Christmas lightbulb covers (it’s a long story), plastic dinosaurs, buttons, and plastic ice cubes. If you’re willing to sacrifice a few, wooden objects might be interesting to throw in because they will float.