It is not uncommon to hear people mention that they bring their little ones to DCM to engage in messy activities. We get it, messy activities require a lot of work, so we are happy to provide those opportunities here as this natural drive to do messy things actually carries developmental significance.
So why is it that all things messy tend to act like child magnets? Young children, in particular, are natural born scientists driven by the need to understand the world around them and answer important questions such as, “what is this?” and “what does it do.” They are naturally drawn to things that look and feel different as these things help them deepen their understanding. When it comes to sensory explorations it is well known that these experiences provide more than just opportunities to answer such questions.
Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving skills, and social interaction. Other benefits to sensory play are that it aids in developing and enhancing memory, is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child, and can be an excellent tool for supporting the development of scientific thinking.
How to support scientific thinking with slime:
Make your own with your child! There are so many different types of slime type substances. I’ve included the recipe for one of my favorites below but Pinterest is also filled with DIY sensory substances.
Talk through the recipe step-by-step before beginning.
Discuss the physical properties of the ingredient that you are using – What does it feel, look, and smell like?
Ask predictive questions such as, “What do you think is going to happen when we mix the glue and water together?”
Observe and discuss the changes, “How did they change? What does it look like and feel like now?”
Make different types or make changes to your recipe and discuss the differences.
Looking to contain the mess a bit? I have recently discovered these small, inflatable sensory trays – Check them out here.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Fun is one of the reasons why play is such a powerful tool for learning.
2 small plastic cups
1 Tbsp. Elmer’s glue
1 Tbsp. liquid starch
large craft sticks
½ tsp. measuring spoon
Measure glue into one of the plastic cups – use the stick to help get the glue out of the spoon
add a couple drops of food coloring – stir
Pour liquid starch into other plastic cup
Add starch ½ tsp. at a time, stirring constantly
Keep adding starch and stirring until the mixture holds together like putty