Though our spring break isn't until the end of March, my kids do have the day off school today for a teacher inservice day. Having learned my lesson after the overabundance of snow days we've had so far this year, I knew I needed to have a project ready that would engage them and maybe even teach them a thing or two.
So we decided to make oobleck! And yes, it was messy, but it was oh, so much fun, and for those of you on a budget, this oobleck recipe is super inexpensive. In fact, you probably have everything you need for a basic oobleck mixture sitting in your pantry already.
And you know what? Every one of my kids, from my 6-year-old right up to my almost 12-year-old, wanted a turn to play with it.
What is Oobleck?
While most Dr. Seuss fans (and we are BIG fans) are probably familiar with Oobleck, for those of you that aren't, I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of Bartholomew and the Oobleck. As with so many of his books, this is a lighthearted, fun read, with some really great morals at the end.
To give a quick overview, there's an old king who wants something new to fall from the sky, so he calls in his royal magicians. They create oobleck, which results in a sticky, gooey, globby green mess covering the kingdom and its residents. Along the way readers realize that perhaps we should be careful what we wish for. Thankfully, the king's young pageboy, Bartholomew, saves the day by urging the king to say some simple magic words.
If you're going to show your kids how to make oobleck, I'd highly encourage you to pick up a copy of the book as a complement to the project!
How To Make Oobleck
You really only need two ingredients to make this oobleck recipe -- cornstarch and water. If you want to add color, I recommend using tempera paint over food coloring to prevent any staining. I found this 6-pack of washable tempera paint in the craft section at Walmart for just $2.27, and the cornstarch was only $1, making this a very economical experience!
Okay, so I warned you this was going to get messy... Both you and your kids will probably end up covered in goo, but it's the best kind of mess -- one that's loads of fun, yet easy to clean up and washes out of clothes without a trace.
You won't be able to mix oobleck easily with a spoon. You'll have to get your hands in there and work with it until it's the right consistency. But trust me on this, you're going to have just as much fun as the kids!
The really cool thing about oobleck is that it's neither a liquid nor a solid -- it's actually a suspension and will behave like either depending on the amount of pressure you apply.
Squeeze it in the palm of your hand, and it will feel like a solid ball...
But when you open your hand, it will flow over and between your fingers like a liquid...
Oobleck is what's known as a non-Newtonian fluid. In other words, it doesn't behave like a typical liquid in that it doesn't have a constant viscosity. Its viscosity changes depending on the stress or force applied to it.
If you're really curious, you can read up on the scientific explanation as to why oobleck behaves the way it does on Wikipedia. If that's all over your head (I know my eyes were glazing over a bit), I thought it was at least interesting to learn that these common items are all considered non-Newtonian fluids: silly putty, ketchup, yogurt, butter and jam.
While we didn't test this theory, I've also heard that, if you make a big batch, you can actually walk across the surface of oobleck! I think that's a science experiment that's best attempted outdoors in the summertime, so maybe we'll revisit it then. In the meantime, here's the oobleck recipe...
One last thing, because of the fact that the oobleck will separate back into cornstarch and water in time, it's best not to pour it down the drain when you're done. Instead, dispose of it in the trash can.