Red Flags

Questions to Ask
Discuss the different substances at each stage of this activity. How do they feel? What do they look like? Do they remind the children of anything else? What has happened after each addition? This is an opportune time to develop language; children enjoy talking about what they are doing. You might want to take their dictation and make a book about this or other explorations.

Tips for Less Mess: Cover the work area with newspaper, old towels, or tablecloth. Keep paper towels and a garbage bag handy.

Science Connection

When solid particles trap liquid, the result is a jelly like material called a gel.

To be a chemist and explore a combination of sugar, cornstarch, and water

What You Need

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 4 cups water
  • Food coloring (red, blue, and yellow)
  • Hot plate or stove
  • Pot for mixing
  • Strong, sealable, clear plastic bags

    What to Do
    Have the children measure and mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water in the pot. An adult should cook and stir the mixture over medium heat until it becomes thick.

    Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. At this point the children can place spoonfuls in the bags and add the food coloring. Seal the bags securely and squish.


    Chemist: A person who studies elements and the compounds they form. Chemists often mix compounds together creating new substances with different physical properties.

    Cornstarch: A natural nutrient carbohydrate found in the stem, root, and fruit of a corn plant.

    Gel: A mixture that is jelly-like.

    Heat energy: Heat is a form of energy. It is the energy that is transferred from a warm object to a cooler one as a result of the temperature difference between the two. The addition of heat energy to a substance causes its temperature to increase and its molecules to vibrate faster, which may cause other changes.

    Mixture: Whenever two or more substances – either elements or compounds – are contained together but do not combine chemically, the result is a mixture. A mixture is not homogeneous in composition or properties.

    Primary colors: Red, yellow, and blue. All other colors can be mixed from the primary colors.

    Secondary colors: When equal amounts of two primary colors are mixed they produce the secondary colors green, orange, and purple (violet).

    Suspension: Tiny particles of a solid dispersed, but not dissolved, in the surrounding medium.

    Try This
    Color the goop with other household ingredients. What do the children think would happen if catsup were added? What about mustard? Grape jelly?
    Can you think of other ways to try mixing colors with materials you have at home? How about clay or play dough…or just colored water?

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