In our studio, one of the stations that is the most exciting for our youngest students is the “messy table”. Here we introduce a new sensory experience each week for them to explore, experiment with, create with – and yes, make a mess with.
Throughout the session, we cycle through a number of different substances– such as goop, slime, and snow dough, to name a few – and gelatin. Kids love its jiggly motions and the way it is squishy and breakable; it has been in our rotation for about 10 years.
How to enjoy play gelatin at home:
- Mix up a batch of unflavored gelatin, using less water than the recipe calls for. We tend to use about 1/8 less than the recommended amount. This makes it thicker and allows it to be cut into shapes and not break as easily. We use Knox brand, found at many grocery stores.
- We use unflavored gelatin so that even if a child does decide to taste it, the lack of flavor stops them from wanting more. We have noticed however that not too many children do try to taste it – perhaps jello is not as popular as a dessert now as it was a generation or two ago.
- To give the gelatin color, we use food coloring.
- For added visual interest, we add glitter. The glitter will often settle to the bottom while the gelatin cools, so we flip the cubes over as we serve them up, and then sprinkle more glitter on top.
We pour the gelatin into a 9” x 13” baking tray, and the once the gelatin has thickened, we cut it into squares. As with many of our messy activities, we put it on a tray for the children to enjoy: this keeps it easily contained for them, and makes cleanup easier for us. We put out tools and toys for the kids to use to experiment with the gelatin: popsicles sticks, small plastic cups, tongs, plastic animals.
Have you tried gelatin as a sensory material for children? Let us know!