Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cornstarch Goo (or Gel, if you don't like to say Goo in polite company)

Hot Goo Here is something that stewed in my brain for awhile before it became a reality.  At the NAEYC 2007 conference I heard someone talk about putting paint in between two layers of contact paper to provide a squishy surface for kids who don't want to touch gooey things.  But try as I might, I couldn't get it to be at all fun or interesting.  I wanted something larger than a zip bag that I could put on the easel or over our small square table.  I tried adding things to the paint to make it thicker.  I tried putting it on paper and then using one layer of contact paper on top of it.  But it was boring.  Nobody liked it.  Even I thought it was lame.  (If you've done something like this, please share the secret!)

Our music teacher suggested I try some sort of gel.  We use hair gel in small squishy bags, but you're somewhat at the mercy of hair gel manufacturers when it comes to color and you can't always get hair gel in large quantities at dollar stores when you want it.  The music teacher suggested corn starch but didn't know what proportion of water to corn starch would be best.

Then I came across a similar idea in The Toddlers Busy Book.  The recipe is very simple:

3 cups cold water
1/4 cup corn starch

Combine the water and corn starch in a cold pot or pan.  Stir constantly while heating and remove it from heat just as it beings to boil.  Allow to cool before storing.

Cool Goo Wow.  Super simple.  It looked smooth and creamy, like pudding, while it was still warm and then got more like gelatin as it cooled.  Once it was completely cooled it was as though I had made some soft gelatin and then mixed it.  It wasn't pretty, but it definitely looked like it had potential.

Now, what to do with it?  I used it two different ways, which I'll talk about on Wednesday and Friday.  Why the secrecy?  I want YOU to tell me your ideas.  If someone handed you cornstarch goo, what would you doo?

Allergy note: This recipe contains corn, which makes it inappropriate for students with a corn allergy.  If you put it in squishy bags it might be acceptable, but check with parents first.  There's always the risk that the bag might leak.


  1. You could add colour to it. You could put it between 2 sheets of Glad Press and Seal. (seal square around edge to keep it in).
    Stick it to the window at eye level and draw on it with fingers. Or look through it.
    Or put goo/gel on coloured paper and Press and Seal it to the paper and draw on it. Or put it on the floor and stand on it. Or drive cars over it.

  2. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing them. Something like this is just begging for color, isn't it?

  3. At first, I had trouble getting kids interested in the squishy bags. Then I realized that it's how you present them. I started taping them to different areas of the room that they wouldn't typically get to play. For example: Under the table, to the floor (feels great on the feet), to the window, etc. Really changed the game!