Saturday, May 26, 2012

Glorious Goop: A Sensory/Scientific Experience

Using two simple ingredients found commonly in most homes, you can try this awesome, but slightly messy sensory experience with your children.  All you will need is cornstarch, water, and  a tray to contain the mixture.  For added exploration, you can provide your child with a spoon and smaller container to transfer the mixture into.

When cornstarch and water are combined, you end up with this amazing concoction that can feel both solid and liquid.  Equal amounts of water and cornstarch can be used, but this is very open ended if you want more of a liquid use more water, more of a solid, use more cornstarch.

Begin by pouring cornstarch and then water into your tray.  Allow your child to help you combine the two ingredients.

As they mix the water and cornstarch, you can ask them, "What's happening?"  and "How does it feel?"  A young toddler may not verbally answer you, but will point and coo as they notice the changes.  You can also supply them with the language for what is happening, "They are mixing together.  It feels smooth and gooey".

The more the two ingredients come together, the more there is to notice.  When you press down on the cornstarch and water it feels much like a solid, but when you lift up your finger, the mixture begins dripping as a liquid would.  This change in texture makes for a great activity for children ranging in age from young toddlers to elementary age.  If exploring this mixture with older children, you can discuss viscosity and the various states of matter from solids to liquids.  You can also compare the viscosity of water in relation to that of the water mixed with cornstarch.

Isabel gives her squeal of approval

When working with younger children, it is important to simply sit back and allow them to enjoy themselves and explore.  All the while you can provide them with new vocabulary, "Dripping, liquid, solid, dry, wet, smooth". 

Because of the full sensory experience this activity provides, toddlers will stay with it at length.  Sean and Isabel stayed fully engaged for half an hour.  Ooohing and ahhing all throughout.

Isabel could not resist giving this slurry a taste.  Surprisingly enough she did not immediately spit it out.  As these ingredients are all edible, the concern for curious tasting from toddlers does not need to be high.

Once your children have had enough time to explore, you can encourage them to begin transferring the mixture from the larger tray to the small cup provided.  This action encourages hand eye coordination and fine motor development.

When it comes time for clean-up, not to worry.  Cornstarch wipes right off with a wet cloth and if it has dried on your child's skin they will simply be able to brush it off.

This activity meets many of the Massachusetts Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences

Reading and Literature:
- Listen to, recognize, and use a broad vocabulary of sensory words.

The Physical Sciences:
- Manipulate a wide variety of familiar and unfamiliar objects to observe,describe, and compare their properties using appropriate language.
-Explore, describe, and compare the properties of liquids and solids found
in children’s daily environment.

Physical Development:
- Use a variety of tools and materials to build grasp-and-release skill.
-Use eye-hand coordination, visual perception and tracking, and visual
motor skills in play activities

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