We have made Gak several times, but our most recent attempt using equal parts water, liquid glue, and starch was my favorite! White school glue is a polymer, and when you mix it with liquid starch the starch makes the polymer strands link up. Adding water to the glue seemed to help it link up to the liquid starch more cleanly – and it meant that we needed less glue for this fun sensory play recipe! We added food coloring as well, just for fun. You can also use glitter glue or add glitter to clear glue to create very cool-looking Gak!
Sensory Play with Gak
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Making Gak is a sensory experience on its own! First we mixed the water and glue, and then we added the liquid starch. The liquid starch on its own has a similar consistency to the watered-down glue. The main difference is that the watered-down glue is sticky, and the starch is not. So it’s pretty cool to mix these two liquids together and create Gak!
Gak: The Perfect Sensory Material for a Hot Day
Gak feels really nice and cool – it never feels hot, for some reason. It can hold a shape for a few seconds, but then it melts into a mass again.
Five-year-old Lily was fascinated by the fact that she could push her fingers into it and meet some resistance, and that the prints would be there for a few seconds:
But then they would melt away as if she had never been there.
Two-year-old Anna loves play dough, and she was pleased to find that, with a bit of perseverance, she could make a snake out of Gak too – even if the head of the snake was starting to melt down by the time she got to the tail!
Anna also enjoyed cutting the Gak, and seeing how the knife marks disappeared almost immediately. So fascinating!
Note: Elmer’s school glue is non-toxic, and the liquid starch I used has no anticipated adverse effects from ingestion (that is why I used it instead of Borax, which is another popular Gak ingredient), but neither is intended for eating. No adverse effects primarily means it isn’t likely to permanently harm you; it could make you feel quite sick in the short term. Borax is used to make liquid starch, but making the starch changes the chemical structure, making it safe. Anna doesn’t put things in her mouth and I always supervise her play. If you have a child who is likely to put things in their mouth, I recommend the edible gak recipe from Asia Citro’s book, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids.
You might have noticed that all of this play happened on plastic trays. Gak is messy, and if it gets on clothes it can stick or stain (if you included food coloring in your Gak). So we play with our Gak on trays that we use for all sorts of kids activities. We bought our trays at IKEA, where you will probably find the best deal (they sell a white version of the blue ones we own now). If you don’t have an IKEA, these trays look like they would work well. Lily enjoyed playing with her gak once it was put away in a zip lock bag – like our popular mess-free art activity.
What sensory activities do your kids enjoy?