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Sir Mix-A-Lot

Out of nowhere, my 5-YO son became the mad mixer.  He has. to. mix. every waking moment.  Goop, glop, slop, you name it.  And it's the process that matters, of course, not the end result.  He's over the finished product as fast as you can hit the internet for the next recipe.  This is a desperate call for goop recipes.  Tonight we made flubber, our greatest success yet: interesting process, great colors, no mess.  We also made no-cook play-dough and tomorrow my husband is on deck for gunk, a 1:1 corn starch and water mixture.  Oh, and food dye.  Don't forget the ($4/box!) food dye. 

Don't get me wrong, I think it's all pretty cool and science experimenty.  But.  I can't keep up, and the flour and water was a d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.   What's with the sudden, intense mixing obsession?  Got any recipes I should try??  Cause I'm gonna run out any day now.


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We haven't done much beyond flubber so I'm no help for recipes, but I do want to recommend using liquid watercolor instead of food dye. You can buy big bottles of it (and use it as paint too!) and it doesn't stain, unlike some food coloring. We get ours from discountschoolsupply.com but I've seen it at Learning Palace at Mall 205 too.

I have one word for you....MUD.

Good luck!

Baking soda and vinegar set off a very satisfying fizz, and work as an easy cleaning agent on whatever surface it spills on (add different food dyes and mix up in various bowls for two tons of fun). We get the giant containers of cheap white vinegar and baking soda just for this purpose. Warm water and yeast are also exciting as a lesson in chemical reaction.

Oh, and we use teeny spoons and an eye dropper/pipette for the vinegar and baking soda thing. Makes the stuff last longer, draws out the whole project, makes it seem more like a laboratory experience.

white vinegar and baking powder...much explosive bubbly fun. Also is the base for homemade eco friendly cleanser...

Cornstarch and water is one of our favorites (but very messy). Put about 1 cup of cornstach in a large bowl and add 1 tbsp at a time of water until it just starts to get a little wet. When you pick it up in your hands it turns to a liquid and when it falls back into the bowl it becomes more solid. Check out OMSI's web page, they have a section for experiments.

you could just let him help you make dinner.

Brownies are fun, fool proof and edible. I'd make him my dessert chef.

How bout baking bread...lots of kneading.

One thing I like to do is set my boys up with several small bowls and put snack foods in them. I give them nuts in one, raisins in another, maybe some cereal, etc, etc, whatever I have around.

Then, I give them whisks, rubber spatulas, cooking sheets (we have a kid sized one...) and a shoe box (or any other box I find) to pretend it's their own oven and they play "Cooking Show". It makes them happy, it's pretty low-mess, low-fuss entertainment and can even be considered productive since I accomplish snack time that way.

We have done the cornstarch and water too and it's a huge hit. One thing I do to keep the mess under control is to put a big cookie sheet under the bowl or whatever they are using to hold the mixture while they play with it. Then clean-up is really super simple.

Good Luck!

Our daughter loves to mix flour and cocoa together. The cocoa takes a while to fully incorporate into the flour, so it's a good time suck for her. The other day we also mixed different varieties of dried beans into flour and she had a good time scooping and sorting the beans into piles based on color, size, etc.

Have you looked at OMSI's website? They've got recipes for goop, oobleck, playdoh, flubber, etc. http://omsi.edu/visit/playground/activities.cfm

We did the vinegar and baking soda (plus a little food dye, natch) this morning and it was a big hit. Not only the fizzing - very cool - but the goop it all became, plus we cleaned the kitchen sink with it. We have started cooking together more these days, though since that only happens several times a day, it wasn't enough. And yes, punching the risen bread is always a hit, though truth be told we make bread pretty infrequently. Thanks to all! Oh, and with the better weather, the mud factor is helping a lot, but when it's cold, that is sadly less of an option. Were it not so!

When it comes to inedible concoctions like playdough and flubber, powdered washable tempera paint is WAY cheaper than food coloring and makes brighter, more intense colors. It's about $2-3 per one pound jar. If you get primary colors, there's another fun mixing project right there!

Premade pizza dough is fun to play with, then bake and eat.

My 5 year old makes wonderful fruit salads using a steel dough scraper to cut apples, etc.

Outside our favorites are pebbles, dirt, petals, leaves, bark chips, etc.

We make homemeade ranch dip.....

1 cup thick (meaning, the top part of a new carton that hasn't been shaken)buttermilk

1/2 cup mayo (i use the canola/eggless Spectrum kind)

1/2 cup greek yogurt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 tblsp finely chopped parsley

1 tblsp dill

My kid will eat any vegetable provided we have ample dip or "tree sap" (yes, I let her watch Diego). We have both parsley & dill in the herb garden & using the mortar & pestle helps to greatly squelch (is that a word?) those "busy hands".

I have lots of other recipies, but it's 10:30 pm here. I'll check back tomorrow.

AH! I have no help, only sympathy. My daughter is only 13 months and MUST stir something in a bowl. It can no longer be make believe or O's. Must be something creamy. Then she wants me to "taste" (this CAN be pretend, thank God!) but in the process FLINGS the contents from the spoon in my very general direction. :(

Hey Vanessa--hang in there--and remember, it's not too early to start teaching basic kitchen etiquette (as in: you don't fling ingredients at mama), all in the name of good cooking. Whatever helps make it fun for them and bearable for you.

The Mother's Almanac, by Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons has lots of great recipes geared towards kids under 6 (rated by age), not just for foods and snacks, but also for non-toxic household cleansers, beauty treatments, etc.

Also, maybe it would be fun to fill a small clear bottle with 1/3 water with food dye and 1/3 oil, leaving 1/3 empty. Cap and shake. Would it also be interesting to add some sand? I don't know, just brainstorming here.

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