Messy Play: “Ooey Gooey” Cornflour Gloop

Cornflour gloop is such a simple messy play – easy to set up and easy to clear up, too, since it all wipes off easily with a damp cloth! It’s a great one for doing with babies, since it is taste-safe – although in the end A didn’t try eating much at all, which came as a surprise! Cornflour is a really interesting resource for sensory play since, when mixed with water, it creates a non-Newtonian fluid which changes viscosity depending on the force it comes under.

I set this messy play up for A while T was at nursery. I put the cornflour and water in bowls so that he could see the cornflour in its dry state and could explore mixing at his own pace. He began by tipping out one bowl of water, feeling it with his hands and having a little splash. He then began exploring one of the bowls of cornflour, beginning by touching and poking it, and then tipping it out.
A bowl of cornflour sits in a black tuff spot tray next to a puddle of water.
Before long, he was crawling straight through the mix to get hold of the other bowls, and tipping them out too! He really enjoyed the different sensations, and also enjoyed playing with the bowls: observing how they shine and reflect, and listening to the sound he could make by banging them together.
Once T was home, I refilled the bowls and we revisited the activity. Some of the earlier mixture had dried in the sunshine; T began to move it with her fingers and noticed how it cracked. She scooped some of it up and sprinkled it in to the water. She did this for a while and then, when stirring it with her fingers, discovered how it had become “all ooey and gooey” at the bottom of the bowl.
Dried cornflour is on the black tuff, tray, a child's fingers are moving through it and it is cracking.
T spent a long time making mixtures, pouring from one container to another, adding more cornflour, then more water, and then more cornflour again and observing how the texture changed.
While on this occasion she didn’t fully discover how the mixture could be at all once both hard and runny, she began to observe how it would behave slightly different if she squeezed it or just helld it, and how it felt if she stirred it quickly compared to stirring it slowly.

What they are learning:

Sensory play: exploring texture, solids and liquids, wet and dry
Maths: exploring capacity by scooping and pouring
Science: investigating changes of state and reversible changes; observing reflections
Literacy/Physical Development: mark making
Imaginative play: Role play using the cornflour gloop
Messy play doesn’t have to be limited to the children…I think J enjoyed this almost as much as the kids!
If you enjoyed this messy play, why don’t you check out some of my other messy play ideas.

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