Have you made oobleck yet? Learn to make a fun oobleck sensory bin in this post. You’ll learn the recipe for oobleck, how to play with it, and how to clean up oobleck at the end. This quick and easy sensory activity is perfect for kids of all ages.
What is an oobleck sensory bin?
Oobleck is an amazing sensory bin to make for kids. It’s interesting, it’s intriguing, it’s awesome in ways you can’t fully grasp until you’ve played with it.
An oobleck sensory bin is so much easier to make than slime. In fact, it’s the most perfect slime alternative.
An oobleck sensory bin is so much easier to clean up than slime. There’s no oily residue or fear of staining.
The bottom line: making a sensory bin with oobleck is a fun and easy activity for kids that grown-ups won’t mind creating.
RELATED: What’s the big deal with sensory play? Find out in this detailed post about the importance of sensory activities.
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What is oobleck?
Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid created by mixing cornstarch and water.
It moves like a liquid… but it breaks and has other behaviors like a solid. It’s a really special material that exists somewhere between solid and liquid.
This special space that oobleck exists in makes it unexpected and mesmerizing for kids to play with. This “part liquid, part solid” nature of oobleck means it is a fantastic sensory bin material for kids.
RELATED: Do sensory bins need to be messy for kids to learn? Nope! Here’s a whole article on how to introduce kids to sensory bins and teach them to keep it tidy.
Oobleck is a piece of cake to make. You just need cornstarch and water, and to remember this ratio – 2:1.
For this batch of oobleck, I did:
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 2 drops of food coloring
Stir with a wooden spoon, but be ready to use your hands. Remember: it’s just cornstarch and water. It’s not going to ruin everything or be a pain. It rinses right off.
Sometimes, oobleck needs a touch more water (like an extra 1/4 cup) depending on weather/temp/humidity. If it feels dry, add some water.
You will just know when you’ve made oobleck. You’ll have a gooey substance that can break apart but also moves like a liquid.
How to play in an oobleck sensory bin
There’s no right or wrong way to play with a sensory bin – just make sure to only add in toys or materials that can get wet later when they’re rinsed off.
I’ve set up a few different oobleck sensory bins for my kids over the years:
There’s no wrong way to play with oobleck, but I do recommend having a “gimmick:” something for the kids to do while they play with the oobleck rather than just setting the bowl down and expecting them to know where to go from there (I hope you’re picking up on my past mistakes…).
For this oobleck bin, I grabbed my daughter’s large safari animals for her to play with in her sensory bin.
Tips on using oobleck with kids
I’ve been making oobleck activities with kids for more than 20 years. I’ve done this a few times. Over those years, I’ve come up with a few suggestions to make things easier:
- Give kids a wet wash cloth so they can clean their hands frequently in case they want to
- Put a towel under the sensory bin to keep floors clean
- Set up the bin near a water source (hose, shower, sink)
- Give kids tools for their play – don’t expect them to just play oobleck and oobleck alone
- Put everything (kids and toys/tools) into the shower or bath at the end to clean up quickly
What kids are learning with oobleck
Play is learning – never forget that. We don’t need to justify playtime with what kids are learning. They’re learning just by playing. The implication is there that learning is taking place.
BUT – and it’s fun to see what play can do for kids, isn’t it? It’s fun to know what they’re learning with all that fun.
Here’s what kids are learning when they play in an oobleck sensory bin:
- Science exploration: determining properties of solids and liquids
- Cause and effect: seeing what happens when working with oobleck
- Imaginary play: creating a world with the oobleck
- Tactile learning: exploring with touch is a big part of tactile learning
- Independent play skills: learning to play interdependently is a big part of childhood
RELATED: What are the best sensory activities for kids? Check out my complete list here.
How to clean up oobleck
The coolest part of oobleck is how easy it is to clean up.
It rinses clean with water.
The magic of oobleck is in that 2:1 cornstarch to water ratio. Too much water means the oobleck is fully a liquid and loses all its non-Newtonian/solid-like properties.
And that’s exactly how to clean it up and get rid of it: flood it with water.
Turn on the sink and let the oobleck flood. You’ll see it disappear before your eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Food coloring “dissolves” in water. In this activity, 2 drops of food coloring is mixed with 1 cup of water. If you find some on your child’s clothing, set it in cold water for a few hours to let the color “dissolve.” *Always do what you think it best though, I am just some lady on the Internet.
This activity uses cornstarch, which is not recommended for consumption unless cooked. Consider that note when choosing whether or not this is the right activity for your child.
Absolutely not! These activities do not need to be messy for the sake of learning. Children can use sensory bins as a way to learn about boundaries and how to play within a set of rules. You can learn more about that in this post on sensory bin expectations.