Monday, October 22, 2012

Swamp Gunk: A Little Halloween Project That The Kids Will Just Love

Isaac and I spent a fun time together on Saturday afternoon. He had his heart set on making some slimy, swampy, gooey gunk. It's all about Halloween these days. I think part of it was his wanting to have a special one on one time with just me and him. 
This book, The Ultimate Book of Holiday Kid Concoctions by John and Danita Thomas, one out of a series by the same title has been well loved and well used over the years with our children. This "Swamp Gunk" always seems to make at least one appearance a year. A craft and activity that I've also used with our homeschool co-op groups and Cub Scouts.

Here's what's to like:
1. This little project has that cool, creepy appeal that kids gravitate towards. Especially boys for some reason, I've noticed. They'll think you're the coolest mom on the block.
2. This little project makes learning science fun. Following directions accurately... Mixing a solution... Liquids magically transforming into something solid to hold in your hands... The wow factor...
3. A relatively inexpensive way for a kid to create something fun to play with that doesn't need to come from a store. Except, of course, the household ingredients which can be easily gathered, impromptu style around the house.
5. An easy way to create a fun memory of time spent at home together; especially as the days get too cold to play outside. We're all for that around here.
Let's get down to it, shall we?
It's good to gather everything together on your work surface.
(We moved upstairs to my sewing table for better light.)
Here's what you'll need:
1 small mixing bowl
1 larger mixing bowl
1 large liquid measuring cup (at least 2 cups)
1 cup measuring cup
1 cup white glue (Elmer's school glue works great)
2 T. liquid tempera paint or 7-10 drops of food coloring
1 cup water
1 1/3 cup warm water
4 tsp. borax laundry booster (look for it on the cleaning aisle.)
a spoon to stir
a rubber spatula is nice, too.

Start out by making Solution A.
Measure out your 1 cup of glue.

Dump it into the smaller bowl along with 1 cup of water and the food coloring.
For the slime effect, you've got to go with green. Totally. A little yellow added would give it even more of a creepier effect.
Proceed to stir until you think it's fairly mixed. A little tricky to get the glue to completely dissolve. Don't stress. Just do the best you can.
This completes Solution A. Set aside.

Now for Solution B:
In the larger bowl, mix 1 1/3 cup warm water with the 4 teaspoons of borax until completely dissolved. Set aside.
This completes Solution B.
Okay, now you are ready to proceed to the magic moment. The moment we've all been waiting for.
Here we go.

Slowly pour Solution A (glue solution) into Solution B.
Do not stir or mix!

Now, take your hands on the sides of the large bowl and give it a roll, swish,  or a twirl. Whatever you want to call it. Do this about 4 to 5 times. You want the watery solution to totally encompass the gluey mass.
Let it sit for a few minutes. Don't get impatient and pull it out too soon. The slime needs time to solidify and kind of "coagulate" together.
(Does the word coagulate gross you out like it grosses me out?)

The ah-ha moment has finally arrived! Plunge your hands into the bowl and gently lift up the mass of slimy glory.
Cool is an understatement here.

Form it into a ball with your hands. Squeeze out the water. Knead it a little bit. Play around with it.
Show your family. Let them touch it. Share the joy and wonder that's now yours in letting that mad scientist - creative genius part of you shine through.

Obey your mom when she says that the slime can only be played with on a solid surface with no carpet in sight.
(We've seen too many unfortunate carpet and couch mishaps throughout the years. Believe me.) 
Another little hint from our own experience: Make sure that when you're done, put it in the air-tight storage container so it doesn't dry out.
Happy Concocting, y'all!