Corn Starch Sensory Play – Making Oobleck

Have you made oobleck with your kids yet? This sensory play material is made using corn starch and water and actually cleans up remarkably well. We color ours with non-toxic washable paint in place of food coloring, because food coloring can stain. But if you have a child who is prone to tasting I recommend playing with it uncolored.

Lily plays with corn starch and water

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Everybody has been sick a lot at our house recently, which has led to way too much grumpiness. I find sensory play to be one of the best ways to pull kids out of grumpiness. Corn starch with water and a little non-toxic washable paint (better than food coloring since it doesn’t stain) is a favorite sensory play activity in our house.

I don’t have a “recipe” for oobleck, but I recommend starting off with maybe 1/4 cup of corn starch and mixing in the water a little at a time. We often use a 50/50 mixture, but you can play with thicker and thinner versions than that. I add a small squire of paint. If you have a child who tends to eat things, I recommend leaving the paint out.White oobleck is still fun!

Johnny plays with corn starch and water

How Oobleck Works

Mixed with water, corn starch sometimes acts like a solid, but then “melts” into a liquid. This creates a fascinating texture for kids to explore as they try to mold and pick up. The sensory nature of this type of play moves children into a focused “flow” experience that eliminates all grumpiness. It feels like magic! Corn starch and water sensory play is not the neatest of pastimes, but it is hardly the messiest either.

corn starch and water on the floor

My floor was covered with splatters like this afterwards, but it wipes up with a damp cloth or mop. Or you can be super lazy and let it dry, after which it sweeps or vacuums up (assuming your child doesn’t track it all over the house first!)

Cost-benefit analysis:

  • Prep: Getting out corn starch, trays, water, and washable paint – under two minutes
  • Initial entertainment: at least twenty minutes
  • Clean-up: 5 minutes
  • Cost: Less than $2
  • Lasting value: Dispelling whiny/grumpy moods – priceless!

Did this post inspire you to make oobleck with your kids? Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page. You can also tag me on Instagram. Still looking for ideas? Try reading this post on raising kids who love math

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

24 thoughts on “Corn Starch Sensory Play – Making Oobleck”

  1. Oh sick and the grumpies no fun for anyone… I’m hoping the next place we move to has a bigger kitchen or a dining room that isn’t covered in carpet so we can do more messy crafts. Bet this was a fun time for all the kids.

    1. I don’t understand why so many rentals have carpet in the dining room. Why is that ever a good idea?!

      I hope you do get a more craft-friendly home when you move!

  2. I am a meanie and haven’t really tried “messy messy play” much with my children, though I know I should! You look like you are having lots of fun!! Fabulous!

    Thanks for linking and sharing :-)

    Maggy

  3. Elisa | blissfulE

    That looks fun! We’ve used dry cornstarch, and adding a bit of water would make it a whole new experience.

    I wipe up worse than that off the floor after each mealtime…

    1. Good point. Meal times here make a huge mess as well!

      The corn starch with water has quickly become a favorite activity here =)

  4. Heather @ Creative Family Moments

    We love making cornstarch goo! We learned the hard way, though, NEVER put it down the sink! Always the trash! (Clogged drain. sigh.)
    ( :

  5. We went through a whole box of cornstarch this way a few months ago!! I was glad it cleaned up really well…and so was Peter since my kids didn’t keep it very contained.

  6. I’d forgotten about this! We did it a few years ago and had a blast learning about Non-Newtonian fluids! There’s some projects with Elmer’s Glue (like Silly Putty) that’s fun too! Stopping by from Science Sunday!

  7. Where did you get the trays? I really like the look of them! I remember playing a lot with cornstarch and water growing up – even in elementary school! Such a fun thing. Thanks for posting this!

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