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.
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,
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
Suspension: Tiny particles of a solid dispersed, but not dissolved,
in the surrounding medium.
Color the goop with other household ingredients. What do the children
think would happen if catsup were added? What about mustard? Grape
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