You are cordially invited to a mixing party. Get you mixing spoons ready, it’s gonna be a blast.
Saturday is science day and pizza day in our house. It’s a tradition you can count on. We make our pizza crusts from scratch, and the kids looooove rolling out the dough for their own mini pizzas.
This Saturday, I couldn’t decide on what to do for science time. I thought about it as I took out the pizza ingredients. Flour. Salt. Water. Hmmmm…..playdough!
I casually asked who wanted to play with playdough, and they both literally jumped. Needless to say, they were beyond THRILLED.
We already had some playdough that we made months ago just chillin’ in the fridge (pardon the pun), but their excitement motivated me to throw in a little twist.
I remembered a few Oobleck activities I’d been saving for just this sort of occasion. I scrolled through them hoping to decide on one, but they all just looked so good!
I mean, really, how can you choose? I sure couldn’t, so I chose them all!
It was a dough ‘n’ Oobleck mixing party!
I want to share my playdough recipe and Oobleck activity faves from Little Bins for Little Hands, Left Brain Craft Brain, and Babble Dabble Do so you can have a dough ‘n’ Oobleck mixing party of your own!
If you’ve never heard of Oobleck, you’re in for a treat. Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid that gets its name from the classic Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck (if you have a copy, it would be a great way to kick off your dough ‘n’ Oobleck party).
So what is a non-Newtonian fluid? In a nutshell, it’s a fluid whose viscosity (or resistance to flow) changes under stress or strain. This makes it different from a regular fluid like water (a Newtonian fluid) whose viscosity remains constant under the same conditions. Think about water: it doesn’t really change whether shaken, stirred, or poured.
You actually have a lot of non-Newtonian fluids your house already. Who knew?
Honey and ketchup are lovely examples of household non-Newtonian fluids. They have a pretty high viscosity to begin with and don’t pour the same way that water does. Their viscosity becomes even higher when they sit for a long time. Give ’em a good stir or shake, and their viscosity is low enough to be squeezed or poured out onto your plate. Delish!
The physics of non-Newtonian fluids is actually pretty complex. For the purposes of this party, you just need to know that Oobleck is a liquid that sometimes acts like a solid. It thickens and even solidifies under pressure but will flow when that pressure is released. Just like quicksand!
Playdough also has surprisingly complex physical properties. It doesn’t lose its shape due to gravity (just like a solid), but it can be reshaped with force. If you ever look up whether playdough is a liquid or a solid, you might be surprised at the depth of this discussion. The best, simplest explanation I could find is that it’s technically a suspension of solids in a liquid that creates an elastic solid.
Annnnyway…now that you’re an expert in fluid mechanics, we can get back to the party 🙂
We began by pulling out the playdough we already had on hand. They didn’t need any instruction on how to play with it. Peas got right to work mashing and rolling it.
Pie described what it felt like, and I took notes in a liquid or solid chart.
She caught on to the observing, describing, and charting pretty quick. It was time for the mixing to begin!
how to set up your mixing party
To do these mixing activities, you’ll need the following ingredients:
Dish soap – I’ve also seen conditioner used for this, but we didn’t try it out today.
Flour – I like to keep an extra flour and salt around just for science time. That way little hands can go in and out with no worries!
Cornstarch – Find it in the baking aisle.
Food coloring – We didn’t have any, so we experimented with watercolors. It worked beautifully.
You’ll also need things to mix and play with! I gave the kids paper plates, plastic containers, spoons, cookie cutters, and their new favorite science time tool: Hot Wheels. We also drilled a few holes into the bottom of plastic cups to get some dripping action going.
Whenever we use water or paints, I like to cover our table with butcher paper. It isn’t necessary as everything is washable, but it helps contain the mess and spills a little.
Mixing experiment #1: Playdough
We’ve made enough playdough around here to know that you really only need 3 ingredients: flour, salt, and water. Some people also add a little oil to their playdough. I start out with about a cup of flour, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/2 cup water (honestly, I don’t always measure since we end up tweaking it as we go).
I love this recipe for playdough because it requires no cooking, and it’s simple enough for 2-year-old Peas to help.
You can add food coloring if you want. We used watercolors to color our water before mixing the dough.
I set out the ingredients in bowls, and we observed and described them to identify our solids and liquids. Then we added our observations to our chart.
I gave each of the kids flour, salt, and water to explore and mix however they liked. Pie mixed with her hands and discovered that she soon had a glop of sticky, elastic dough. We concluded that it was a solid. We added a little flour here and salt there until we got it to the right consistency.
Peas discovered that salt flows through the holes we drilled into his cup, and so did water.
Then he mixed the salt and water and discovered that they make a liquid.
We added our discoveries to our chart as we went.
Mixing Experiment #2: Dish Soap Oobleck
I came across Anne’s activity for Dish Soap Oobleck on her blog Left Brain Craft Brain and instantly knew that I had to try it during science time. I love the simplicity of activities like this. All you need are kitchen supplies!
Her recipe begins with a tablespoon of dish soap and a teaspoon of cornstarch, and then she encourages you to explore! I love creative science play like this.
I squirted approximately a tablespoon of dish soap onto their paper plates, and we explored its properties.
Whenever we play, I give the kids full artistic license. They went a little off script and added some water to the soap, and they discovered bubbles!
We had to make a new category on our table for gas. The air inside of the bubbles is a gas!
Next we added the cornstarch and created Oobleck.
We felt it and described it. When I asked where we should put it in our chart, Pie was stumped. Is it a solid? A liquid? Neither? Both?
I explained that it was a special liquid. We created a new category called Oobleck and wrote in our discoveries.
Mixing Experiment #3: Oobleck Painting
Ana at Babble Dabble Do gives Oobleck a creative twist in her Oobleck activities post. She shows some pretty inventive ways to paint with Oobleck. Just like the other activities in this mixing party, you can totally do this with whatever you probably have in your kitchen right now.
She uses strawberry cartons to paint with Oobleck in her activity. The pictures in her post are beautiful, and she has a fun video!
To paint with our Oobleck, Peas and Pie chose a color from our watercolor set to add to their mixing trays.
We just dipped a wet paintbrush into the watercolor and then dipped that into the Oobleck mix. It gives a beautiful effect and a fun splash of color.
We used our cups with holes drilled into the bottom to paint the cars (a favorite in every time).
Mixing Experiment #4: Oobleck Quicksand
I LOVE Sarah’s activities at Little Bins for Little Hands. In one of her Oobleck activities, she demonstrates the non-Newtonian properties of quicksand using Oobleck and Lego men. She shows how you need to slowly pull your Lego man out of the Oobleck quicksand. Go and check it out – I highly recommend her slime activities, too 🙂
Her recipe for Oobleck calls for a 2 lb box of cornstarch and 2 cups of water. We used the Oobleck we’d been working with, so it was a little different in consistency than hers. This didn’t stop us from playing, though!
Peas is a little too young for Lego men, so we don’t have any of those in the house yet. What we DO have are special Saturday Science Hot Wheels. Both of them pull them out for whatever activity we do.
We rolled the Hot Wheels through our Oobleck quicksand and watched as the tracks it made slowly disappeared.
In the end, our Oobleck party lasted a little over an hour. The kids were SO happy (and messy). I have a feeling we’ll be hosting another mixing party soon!
I hope you enjoy these activities as much as we did! Leave a comment and share what discoveries you and your trailblazer make!
If you want to keep your science time going, grab your free copy of the How to Build a Robot from A to Z ebook and printable Robot Building Kit. It’s a fun, imaginative twist on building a robot of your own!