Wednesday, August 24, 2011

OT and Oobleck

We had occupational therapy again today. Today we spent the entire time with oobleck. For those of you who are unfamiliar with oobleck, it is a simple homemade substance that is made by mixing one part water with 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch. It makes a substance by suspending the cornstarch particles in the water. The substance is pretty unique. It behaves like both a liquid and a solid. When under pressure it behaves like a solid. Otherwise is behaves like a liquid. So you can pick it up in your palm and squeeze it into a ball, but when you release the pressure a bit it drips down between your fingers like a liquid.

First we put a pile of cornstarch on a cookie sheet and let the kids explore that with their hands. That alone was a bit of a stretch for Ava because of the way the cornstarch covered her hands and was difficult to wipe off. Then we began adding water and she wanted none of it. She mostly observed for the next 20 minutes or so. Michael was hesitant, but when he began to play with it he had a blast.

I just let Ava watch me play with it. The messier my hands got the more agitated she became. She actually broke down in tears at one point when my hands were covered in it and I refused to clean them off quickly enough for her. I eventually got her to poke at it a little bit in exchange for a spoon. Once she had a spoon she had fun scooping it up and watching it drip back down onto the pan. Some would cling to the spoon and I did manage to persuade her to use a finger to push the last few remnants off the spoon.

Another thing we did was get out some markers. The children could draw on the surface of the oobleck with markers and make pictures. When it got mixed up again, the oobleck combined with the color of the markers. Ava's turned pink. Michael's ended up grey because he experimented with so many colors. We did start with yellow and then blue which combined to make green. That was fun. The markers just rinsed clean.

We will have to play with oobleck several more times over the next few weeks and try to increase Ava's tolerance of it. Does anyone have any suggestions for activities with oobleck other than simply playing with it and then coloring on it? I didn't get any pictures this time, but I definitely will next time so I can share them with you.

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