In Science Playground, we love to keep our senses engaged and our minds open to exploration by playing with sensory materials such as flubber and playdough. If you have been to our space at OMSI, you might have noticed that we are not the only ones interested in playing with these types of materials.
As winter begins, it brings with it breaks from school and opportunities for rainy indoor activities. We invite you to make some of your own sensory materials at home! There are many ways to keep occupied with these activities and various benefits to this style of open ended play, ranging from improving fine motor skills to developing brain connections. For adults, these materials can also be a soothing and meditative activity.
Playing with the finished product is rewarding, but we also enjoy the process of making these materials! This is a great time to focus on the scientific process by inviting your kids to make predictions about what will happen before each step. Engage your child’s senses by asking them to describe what the mixture looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like, how it is changing, and other questions to create observations. If we make mistakes, we can learn from them and try the experiment again, just like all scientists do.
Another fun characteristic of flubber and playdough is that they both conduct electricity! Check out this fun TED Talk on Squishy Circuits about the amazing ways playdough can be used to learn about circuits. This is an easy way to use playdough and we definitely recommend trying it at home! You can easily pick up a few LED lights, batteries, and other fun low-voltage goodies at your local electronics parts store. Science Playground also has this activity, so if you are ever interested in exploring this idea at OMSI, please ask our staff.
If you have enjoyed our recipes for flubber and playdough, maybe it is time to try a couple of our other favorites! Oobleck is a 2 to 1 ratio of cornstarch to water. Experiment with the ways oobleck moves when you hit it really hard or place your hand gently in it. Cloud Sand is an 8 to 1 ratio of flour to baby oil. This substance feels smooth and fluffy, but is also moldable! For these and any other sensory material, we like to provide lots of different tools for exploration. These are great for anyone, but especially in case your child is a bit hesitant to dive all the way in with their hands. Kitchen tools like spatulas, rolling pins, and cookie cutters are a great place to start.
Get ready for a messy good time, and be sure to have your kids help with the clean-up! After all, scientists don’t leave their experiments sitting out for someone else to tidy away.
Sensory play is important and fun for all ages! Enjoy these activities with your kids, or even without them.
Happy exploring !