Today we’re covering oobleck activities as a fun sensory material to challenge tactile sensory input and inspire messy sensory play. Oobleck is the non-Newtonian fluid that shifts from liquid to solid and back again, all at a person’s fingertips, just by the pressure applied to it, and it’s a great sensory material! Let’s cover some oobleck sensory play!
What is Oobleck
Have you ever whipped up a batch of Oobleck, the goo that defies all rules? This magical substance goes by many names – Oobleck, goop, glop, goo, slime, or even magic mud – and it’s the ultimate fascinating substance for kids and adults alike.
This captivating mixture that most people call Oobleck, is one that children simply can’t keep their hands off of when presented with it. And do you want to know the best part? It only takes a few ingredients to conjure up this magical hands-on glop.
Recipe for Oobleck
To make oobleck, all you need is 2 cups of cornstarch and 1 cup of water. This means, it’s a great simple sensory recipe that kids can get help to mix.
Simple Oobleck recipe ingredients
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups
- Towel or plastic tablecloth
- Tray or tub for sensory play
- A copy of the(Amazon affiliate link) Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Suess (optional)
To add some vibrant colors, simply just mix in a few drops of food coloring, and viola, you’ve got colorful Oobleck!
If you’re out of cornstarch, some folks have successfully experimented with substitutes like baby powder, tapioca, and arrowroot instead (although I haven’t personally tested these options), but they say it works great!
Ingredients to make the simple oobleck recipe:
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- Food coloring or approx. 3 Tbsp. of tempera paint (optional) – use the amount you desire based on how much color you want the Oobleck to have – less is lighter, more is darker.
- Initially mix the cornstarch, water and food coloring or tempera paint in bowl with a spoon.
- Next, get your hands in it and begin mixing and scrunching together. Add more cornstarch or water as needed. Note: You may need to use more cornstarch at higher altitudes. The right consistency is when it reaches the feel of honey, but will rip as you pull your fingers across the surface.
- Place the Oobleck in a play tray or in a bin for kids to explore. Hint: You can use a plastic shower curtain or plastic tablecloth underneath it to make clean up a little bit easier.
- To store the Oobleck, use a container that has a good closing lid. When using the Oobleck again, if the cornstarch and water have separated just squish and mix together again.
This is important – safety always comes first! Adults should always supervise children using Oobleck to prevent accidental ingestion and keep the little ones safe while playing.
You can also change the oobleck recipe a bit with an alternative to cornstarch. For even more sensory fun, explore alternative Oobleck recipes that target scents, sounds, textures, or colors.
Oobleck recipe with baby powder:
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups baby powder
Oobleck recipe with baking soda:
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup water
Note: A little extra stirring with this recipe is required to thoroughly mix it together.
Oobleck recipe with chocolate:
- ¼ cup cocoa
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
Oobleck recipe with Kool-Aid:
- 3 cups of water
- 9 cups of cornstarch
- 2 packages of Kool-Aid
- food coloring (if a more vibrant color is desired)
Oobleck Recipe with lemonade:
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 Tbsp. of powdered lemonade mix
Jello Oobleck Recipe:
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of cornstarch
- 1 packet of Jell-O (your choice of the color and/or flavor)
Oobleck recipe with tapioca:
- 2 ¼ cups of tapioca flour
- 1 cup of water
Make the Oobleck recipe of your choice and then think about the following senses to add a unique sensory addition to create oobleck activities that also build skills.
- Tactile- You can also add in different materials to make the oobleck more interesting and to vary the sensory experience. Make it more tactilely interesting by adding either sand, glitter, or sequins as the sensory add-ins can add a unique feel to your Oobleck mixture.
You can also let the kiddos experiment with creating their own fun and unique tactile Oobleck – just make everything available and let them go!
- Visual- Make the Oobleck more visually appealing by adding colorful items or change the color of the Oobleck with a glow-in-the dark pigment, food coloring, glittery craft beads, confetti, gems, or sequins. Again, let the kiddos experiment with colorful items that make the Oobleck more visually engaging to them.
- Auditory- Boost the sound experience during Oobleck play by using various objects that create sound when interacting with Oobleck such as bells, plastic necklaces, sound-producing objects inside plastic eggs, squeaky toys, and musical instrument toys. By integrating these fun sound elements, it will add a multisensory experience coupled with any other sensory element you have chosen, be it texture, visual, or olfactory.
- Olfactory- Enhance the Oobleck sensory experience by adding a few drops of scented essential oils such peppermint, lavender, mint, citrus, or cinnamon. It will create a delightful aroma as children play with it and considering a scent to match the season can provide a festive approach.
- Movement- Give the Oobleck exciting and dynamic movement by adding the use of scoops, containers, or washable toys. You can also add some kitchen tools like spoons, strainers, forks, cookie cutters, a whisk or a potato masher.
Oobleck Activities for Therapy
There are many sensory benefits of oobleck, and some of those include targeting goal areas:
- tactile discrimination
- tactile tolerance
- washing hands
- tolerating messy hands
- sensory touch activities
- tactile defensiveness
One way to work on these skills is by using plastic gloves on the hands. Grade the activity by cutting out just the fingertips of the gloves. Then, work on touching the oobleck with just a fingertip.
Another oobleck activity to target sensory motor skills is with goop painting. We created a thinner oobleck consistency and painted with the messy material.
You can foster fine motor and visual motor skills by using mixing utensils or paintbrushes to mix the oobleck. We created a flour oobleck recipe and used paint brushes to combine the colors for sensory painting and creative painting fun.
Utensil use- For those who have goals to improve independence with utensil use, you can incorporate a spoon to scoop and stir the materials.
Oobleck Activities for each season
The use of Oobleck during therapy and at home is abundant and included below are some fun and creative ideas for Oobleck recipes or designs for each holiday and season to help give you a little bit of inspiration and motivation to create your own version of Oobleck fun!
Pair these oobleck activities with therapy themes for skill-building.
- Winter Oobleck with a melted snowman theme
- Spring Oobleck with a rainbow theme
- Summer Oobleck with a lemonade theme
- Autumn Oobleck with a fall leaf theme
- New Year’s Eve Slime with a party theme
- Valentine’s Oobleck with a heart theme
- St. Patrick’s Oobleck with a treasure hunt theme
- Earth Day Oobleck with a two-color theme
- July 4th Oobleck with a fireworks theme
- Halloween Oobleck with a witch’s brew theme
- Thanksgiving Oobleck with a pumpkin theme
- Christmas Oobleck with a gingerbread theme
*Just remember that adding other elements to Oobleck may change the recipe amounts and you may need to adjust the amount of cornstarch and water accordingly to maintain the consistency that you desire for play.
Caring for your Oobleck and knowing when it’s time to part ways and be tossed out is important. Here are some key points to consider:
- To clean up Oobleck, warm water works wonders, but be cautious about letting excessive amounts go down the sink drain, as it can potentially clog your pipes.
- The easiest way to cleanup is to let Oobleck dry out, which transforms it into a powder that can be safely tossed into the trash.
- Emphasize always having clean hands when playing with Oobleck, and for added safety, check it before each play session to ensure there is no sign of mold growing.
- While you can store Oobleck in the fridge and freezer, remember not to store in the refrigerator for more than one week or in the freezer for longer than 3 months.
- Always clearly label the Oobleck when storing it so there is not a chance of it being mistaken for actual food.
*Note: Emphasizing again, adult supervision should always be provided when children are working with Oobleck in any form or with any materials as it can be very dangerous if consumed or in some cases, deadly depending on the substances used. The best practice is to simply not allow children to consume any type of Oobleck even if it is consumable as it can be confused as edible when it is not! Additionally, small objects in the Oobleck can pose a choking hazard.
Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!