Oobleck! Enriching DIY Science Fun for Kids

Recipe for easy, low-cost, kitchen science to educate and entertain kids

By Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas May 13, 2023

How would you like fun and educational science activity to engage your kids at home? What if I told you it was also low cost and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen? And if I told you it was easy to make, easy to clean up and fun for all ages? Sounds too good to be true - I know! 

This DIY STEM activity is messy-fun, but not too messy, it's safe - even for the littles plus it's easy to clean up and won't stain clothing, hands or furniture (if you don't add color) and it's guaranteed to keep kids busy, stimulated and engaged while learning science?

What is it you ask?


Did you know that oobleck gets its name from the Dr. Seuss book: Bartholomew and the Oobleck? This is also a great activity to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2nd


How much one "part" is depends on how much you want to make! 

  • 1 part water
  • 1.5 – 2 parts cornstarch

Optional additions:

  • Food coloring - keep in mind this could stain clothes and furniture
  • Glitter
  • Water beads

Other supplies:

  • Bowl for mixing
  • Optional:  Spoon, fork or whisk for mixing
  • Optional: Additional container or tray for play

How to make the oobleck:

  1. Measure the corn starch and add to the bowl
  2. If you’re using food coloring, add a few drops to the water 
  3. Slowly add the water while mixing - kids can do this stirring with a spoon or fork or it's even more fun to just use their hands
  4. Mix until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter or is hard to stir - You might not use all the water
  5. Pour the mixture into a container with low sides so the kids can explore and play

The Science of Oobleck

When you apply force to the oobleck by rolling it into a ball or slapping it between your hands, you make it thicken so that it stays in your hand, but if you stop moving it, it turns back into a liquid and will slip out between your fingers. Did you know if you make enough oobleck, you can even walk ON it!

Learn about liquids and solids and how substances like this, which are neither solid nor liquid, are called “non-Newtonian” fluids. The corn starch mixed with water creates a colloid. The corn starch molecules are too big to be dissolved in the water, like gelatin, and quicksand. When the pressure on the fluid is high, the particles pack together and have a hard time moving. When the pressure is low, then the particles move more freely and the fluid moves easily again. 

I've included some great videos you can watch together with your kids to learn more.

Ideas to enhance learning play with oobleck

Get started:
Oobleck is fun for all ages - you'll love it too! You can just put the oobleck out and let them play and see what happens - let them do the discovering and tell you all about it. Let your kids’ imaginations take them on a fun adventure. They can simply enjoy trying to hold the oobleck as it runs through their fingers or try different containers, strainers and tools or even have a pretend restaurant with it. 


Depending on their ages, experience and interest level they might not need any help or guidance from you. As needed you might show, explain and encourage the different ways they can play with the oobleck. When they slap the surface - ask them how it feels. Encourage them to see what happens when they grab the oobleck quickly or when they run their hands through the material slowly. Suggest they to try and scoop up handfuls of the oobleck, roll it into a ball, and then when they flatten their hands out the ball 'melts' into goo and drips off of their hands - ask them to tell you about it.

If you Dare:
If you really want to go wild with your kids, find a large tub / plastic storage container like the kind that go under the bed, a kiddie pool or sandbox and fill the container with oobleck. You'll want to keep a closer eye on the little ones and let the kids run across the surface. This is an outside activity - obviously.

Note:  You will need a lot of corn starch for this option - time to stock up on the giant sized bag of corn starch.

Time to Clean up:
Cleaning up your play space is easy with a damp cloth, but be careful not to play on a surface that would be easily stained by the food coloring. Hopefully play happened over surfaces that are easy to wipe clean, but if there was a drip on the carpet, don’t worry! Once oobleck dries out, it becomes just corn starch again and you can vacuum up the powder - Yes, I found this out from personal experience! Of course, if there was food coloring in your oobleck, that might be harder to get out so keep that in mind before you choose to add color.

When you're done:

Careful to dispose of the oobleck in a trash can - do not pour it down the sink unless you really love your plumber.

This article originally published by Laura Miller March 2016 combined with information from an article published in January 2012 by Kim McNeill and has been edited and updated by Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas, May 2023.

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