Making Slime without borax or liquid starch

Slime, Ooblek, Gak, Flubber, Silly Putty – it’s been called all that. I’d always wanted to make this. The way the goo oozes in your hand is just so irresistible.

Slime intro liquid starch

But I found that I wasn’t going to get the most important ingredient here in Singapore – Borax, which is a laundry compound people elsewhere can find in department stores and it’s just not available in Singapore. So when I looked for alternatives, I found that liquid starch can do the trick too (But the liquid starch should have borax as ingredient). And that is difficult to find too. What I did find in our department stores is this.

Note: This post has 2 recipes, one with Easy on starch spray and other with Epsom Salt. If Easy on starch spray is not available to you, click here to jump to the Epsom Salt recipe.

Method 1: Using Easy On Starch Spray

Slime Starch Ingredients Gather and add your ingredients:

  1. Washable School Glue (clear or white)
  2. Food Colour – colour of your choice (green is good because it’s more popular and if you have a Ninja Turtles fan in the house)
  3. Starch Spray (you need to be careful while using the pressurised bottle since it was not designed to be used as liquid. It mists a lot while spraying and works well in some particular angle so this step is not advisable for a child)
  4. Sprayed starch will froth like in the picture 4 above. Stir everything together.

Now comes the fun part, messy one too. Leave the stirrer and start kneading with your fingers.

Slime Starch Consistency

 

If it looks like the first picture above, you need more starch and more kneading… until it looks like the second picture above and it no longer sticks to your fingers.

To make the slime stretchy and playable, you must knead it longer. But what better way than to let the kids do the kneading playing?

Slime Starch Play Knead

While they are at it, you might make some monsters, let the slime ooze through your fingers or just watch the slimy goodness stretch towards the floor like it’s got a life on it’s own. Alien Goo!

Slime Starch Play Stretch

It is super stretchy and you just can’t keep your hands off it. And I have absolutely no idea why hubby can’t find this fun!

Slime Starch Super Stretch

Method 2: If you don’t have borax or liquid starch

I like this method because it’s perfectly safe, even for a young child to use. Epsom Salts are naturally found, is good on the skin (use it in baths for a relaxing experience) and the pack I got from Guardian pharmacy is food grade. The consistency of goo made is very different from the starch spray slime. It’s not as stretchy and doesn’t really ooze so I’d much rather call it a silly putty than slime.

How to make Silly Putty using Epsom Salts

Slime Epsom Ingredients

Gather and add your ingredients:

  1. Equal parts of Epsom salts and warm water: Add in a bowl and stir. Epsom salts take time dissolving in water. Using warm water makes it dissolve faster but has no effect on the consistency of the putty.
  2. Food Colouring
  3. Glue: Add as much or as little putty as you want to make. It’s better to start with smaller portions just to try at first. You’ll be able to reuse your salt solution to make further batches of putty by just adding desired amount of glue.Slime Epsom Consistency
  4. Stir very lightly. When it looks like the first picture above (mucous like consistency. GROSS, I know!), you might want to use your fingers to check if the glue is still sticky (picture 2).
  5. When it doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore, remove from salt solution and knead in another bowl. Soon, your putty should look like picture 3, like jelly beans.
  6. Continue to knead and play with it.

Slime Epsom Play Stretch

The Epsom Salt Silly Putty is very silky and smooth. it’s not as stretchy as the Borax substitute but since it holds it’s shape much longer it’s better for some kinds of play (especially for people who do not like the way the slime oozes).

If it doesn’t workout for you:

 

Slime Epsom Problems

If your putty looks like the above pictures, it means you stirred it too long in the salt solution. The glue keeps reacting with the Epsom Salt solution as long as it’s together. So if it lumps up like this, you may still be able to knead it and make shapes for a while it will soon dry out to the consistency of dried glue. So be alert and remove the gross looking mixture from the solution as soon as it doesn’t stick anymore. It will thicken to the right consistency when you knead it enough.

Storage

Both of these recipes need to be stored in refrigerator in between playtime to save it from drying out. The Epsom salt recipe dries faster.

Other Options

If you don’t find even Epsom Salts in your country or you’d much rather not use any of these recipes and are looking for something more eco friendly, or safer for toddlers, you might want to checkout my corn starch slime recipes, coming soon.

Organise your monopoly game with a DIY game kit

My family is really big on Monopoly game. We’ve spent hours after hours playing the game, which is really a lot of ‘sitting down time’ for an active 6 year old. We especially love our special Singapore edition game. It’s extra fun when you play with our own favourite haunts in the city and who doesn’t like a house at Sentosa Cove anyway?

Monopoly intro Before After

 

The problem is, every time we sit down to play, we spend quite an amount of our precious time setting up the game. For some reason, the organiser that comes with the original box (refer ‘before’ picture above) doesn’t work at all and messes itself up every time the box shakes a little. I decided to take things over and eliminate the hours wasted in just setting up the game before we sit down to play.

We love my new game kit (refer ‘after’ picture above). We can start playing right away after deciding to because everything we need fits snugly in this small kit, already set up.

Monopoly intro Snug FIt

 

And I’m going to show you how I did it.

Supplies

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A transparent document case/folder (make sure your folded game board fits inside)
  • Small clips
  • A transparent pouch for game pieces
  • Brad pins / paper fasteners (I picked up my box of 100 pins from Popular Bookstore Singapore for around 3 dollars)
  • A thick sheet cardboard for support (this should fit inside the document folder)
  • Some thick cards about the same size as your monopoly money (not shown in picture). I made mine from a cereal box.

Step 1

Organise your money and game cards and decide how you want it to be setup. I wanted it to be like this:
Plan

 

Step 2

Measure the thick cards according to your plan.

measure

 

I fixed the cards to my cardboard support using brad pins. It would be easier and neater to use stapler but I like these little things because they can reach where the stapler cannot. And I had to use 2 pins per card to keep them from rotating. Brad pins or these fasteners are especially useful when rotation is desired.

Step 3

Clip on your money and cards to the card board support.

Arrange

 

When you are done, your multitasking banker will have an easier job handling the bank’s money.

You may stop here if you only want an efficient monopoly kit. Or you can go on and make it look better.

Step 4

Next, I repurposed my worn out original monopoly box to make a folder for my custom kit.

make folder

  1. I made 2 cards out of the front and back of the old box, the same size as my support.
  2. I attached the support to the back cover.
  3. I cut out another piece of the box to use as the spine for the folder
  4. And attached it to the front and back cover

Step 5

Slide everything along with your folded game board (not pictured) inside your transparent document case, ready for playtime!

final kit

Setting up a Creativity Centre for your kids

If you understand that it’s important for you to provide and encourage your child’s creativity by providing materials but just can’t manage all those messy supplies, welcome to the club. While I don’t claim to be an expert in organising (expert? you must be kidding), I’ve tried different strategies to organise his art and science supplies and have finally settled for a method that works for both me and my son.

Creativity Centre

The problem

My son’s creative supplies were always fully accessible to him even when he was a toddler (age specific materials), but…

  1. We could not contain the mess at all. Things were scattered everywhere making it difficult to find one when he needs it. I also didn’t have a system where I can teach him to clean up after himself.
  2. My son’s play room is also his bed room and I do not want the space to be messed up. Every science project my son plans involves mixing up smelly potions (he loves to mix things up and experiment) and it’s not fun to send him to bed in a room that smells of vinegar.
  3. I tried moving his creativity centre to a room that is easy to clean so I wouldn’t mind a mess, like a kitchen corner or the laundry room. But as the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind”, very soon, he had totally forgotten his creativity supplies and was content with playing in his room without them!

The solution

After researching a dozen different articles about organising kids art supplies, I put our creativity centre on wheels. That way,

  1. My son could just push the cart around the house where it needs to be for a particular kind of project.
  2. Since everything has it’s own space inside the cart, it’s easier for him to put things back after using them.
  3. It can go home to his bedroom when the activity is done.

Organising Kids Stuff - Creativity Centre

I already had a trolley storage cart for many years and so I just decided to use it.

Fine tuning the details

Next, I had to figure out how to use the precious space I had found. It was very tempting to fill it up with attractive art materials. But knowing my son is not big on art, I had to restrict the space to only the most essential art materials, ones he loves to use and the ones I want him to use to encourage creativity. I decided to include his science lab equipment and materials in the cart too. My cart had 4 bins, so I dedicated 2 each.

Creativity Centre 4 traysWhile every child’s creativity centre must be personalised differently, some ideas or guidelines would help. Here’s what we have in my son’s creativity centre right now:

Click here to download (PDF, 67KB)

Making the most out of the space

It does sound like too long a list of things to fit inside a small cart like this. But most of the art supplies are fewer in quantity though there are more varieties. Here are some tips to save space:

Creativity Centre small items

  1. Small items like pompoms, googly eyes and confetti are contained in small candy cases.
  2. I give him very few papers of each kind/colour at a time. Which means that he is more likely to try different types of paper instead of wasting them. But it also means that I will have to check and replenish stock every now and then.
  3. Most drawing supplies are placed in transparent a5 size pouches (I picked them up for ¢90 each from Popular Bookstore here in Singapore). They are very convenient, space saving and the transparency make them easier to find and take out.

Cleaning up

The bottom bin which has all the science lab equipments also has my son’s own small cleaning kit. He uses the mini broom and dust pan for dry items and the rags and spray bottle (with water) for all wet mess. Well, I wouldn’t say I could just let him clean by himself, many times he creates more mess unknowingly by trying to clean up. But I use this to teach responsibility.

The mini vacuum cleaner is an added advantage and son loves to use it. Most stubborn waste, like spilt glitter gets super clean easily!

How to build a lifelike erupting volcano using papier mache

I had always wanted to make a big volcano for my son to play with. No matter how many times we try it, the vinegar-baking soda reaction never fails to amaze us.

Volcano header

We have tried a few variations and I decided to make a lasting volcano (which we can keep for a few months at least) for his dinosaur themed birthday party last may. Sure the volcano was a huge hit at the party and until we were ready to make it erupt, we used it as a centrepiece.

Volcano Centrepiece

And it is still around after 7 months and I’m sure we’ll keep it a few more months. I’ve made a video about how to make one using papier mache (if you are new to papier mache, believe me, it can get really really strong and lasting). Hope you enjoy watching it and try it yourself.

To make your volcano erupt (basic method):

What you need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Red/Orange Food Colouring (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Dry Ice (optional)

Volcano ingredients

Add vinegar to baking soda with food colouring though it works well the other way too. It’s amazing when the kids add the colourless liquid and see the magic instantly. It’s a good idea to fill baking soda, glitter and food colouring in the volcano beforehand, when the kids are not looking. Our bunch of party kids went mad when they saw the eruption after my son poured what they first thought was water.

Volcano Eruption

If you have access to dry ice, add a bit of it before adding vinegar. I couldn’t get any while preparing for the party but it creates a smokey effect and adds to the fun.

 

Best of 2014

I’ve been very busy this past half year. I’d been suffering from nesting instinct when I was not suffering from morning sickness. But I’m not complaining! Since we’re “expanding our family by a couple of feet” this April, I thought I might as well do things I’d been wanting to do for 3 years since we moved into this house. Organise.

I’m almost done through the house and since I don’t want to be left with nothing to organise in 2015, I decided to do my blog. Going through my art lessons during the earlier half of last year, I made a list of some of the best I wanted to share here.

(Click on the title or picture to open link)

6 best art projects from 2014

1. My first self portrait

SelfPortrait5

This project might be my all time favourite with my small group of students. I love the results with all my heart, especially since I know each of them personally and understand how their own personality has reflected very well in their depiction of themselves.

2. Pete the Cat Comic Strip

PetetheCat_Comic Strip5

This is a wonderful literature inspired art project which was both fun and challenging to the kids. It was good to see those little mind so absorbed in creating their own story and using the character within the story and most of all, in creating their very own “comic strip”. This last point sure made this project such a hit.

3. Kinder Recycled Sculptures

Recycled2

It was one of those moments when our group of 5 year olds amazed me with what they can. I was quite doubtful even when I put a collection of recyclables in front of them and I showed them how I would make a robot using the materials. I was actually expecting an array of different robots. But not one of them chose to copy. They came up with their own ideas of what goes where and I couldn’t have taught them better!

 4. Texture and Pattern Lion

TextureandPatternLion

This is an amazing learning experience for my group of kinders. The textured filling of the main subject complements well with the analytical pattern of the background and the kids enjoyed the process. The main subject itself was a very important process since our reference was a complicated real life photo of a lion.

5. Monster Paper Collage

Monster1

This was one of our monster projects (for some reason, a monster project is always a hit) inspired by a book. It was fun to see cute little monsters taking form glowing against the black background.

6. Teddy Bear Art Project

Teddy Bear

This was the kinders’ very first still life lesson. The whole experience of drawing from life and creating a very real looking teddy bear on their own was encouraging for the kids and had them asking for more.

Texture and Pattern Lion

TextureandPatternLion

 

Learning patterns and textures can be a lot of fun. We read a basic pattern and texture book and went through a lot of examples before starting the project.

  1. The lion was drawn step by step and we followed a photo from national geographic magazine.
  2. The face and mane were created using texture rubbing technique. We used simple textured objects we found around the home.
  3. We painted a solid background and created patterns when it was dry. We did practise this step first, by painting patterns on separate sheets of paper. Understanding this concept was tricky enough for this age group.

It was a fun process and I love the way these little lions turned out.

Pete the Cat Comic Strip Art Project

PetetheCat_Comic Strip5

 

I’ve been thinking of creating a Pete the Cat art project for quite a while now and finally fixed on a comic strip. It was high time too, the kids had fun as they made their own comic and learnt a lot too. It was totally creative and they were able to work independently regardless of the fact that we were using guided drawing technique for drawing the cat.

Inspiration

We read the book “Pete the Cat and his magic sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean. It is a fun read and is about enjoying the best in the world. Pete the Cat has a gloomy day and he learns to cheer himself up but finally learns that he doesn’t really need a “magic something” to make him happy. He could be happy anyway!

The illustrations, as it is with other Pete the Cat books, is catchy and inspiring.

After I read the book, I demonstrated different ways of drawing Pete the Cat. I focussed more on Pete’s face, but I also showed the kids how to drawing sitting, standing or on a skateboard. After this, I asked the kids to think of a story and start drawing.

 

Drawing Pete the Cat and the story line

I always teach the kids to start a figure from it’s eyes or the shape of the face. In this case, we started with the face. Draw 2 short parallel lines and join them on the bottom with a ‘V’ shape. Join the top with an “almost curved” line. Add 2 triangles for ears. Now in the middle of the face, add 2 long curved lines and finish the eyes using 2 inverted curves and 2 tiny inverted triangles for eye balls. Under it, draw an inverted triangle for nose.The whiskers seem to be sprouted directly from the cheek, which the kids found very funny.

 PetetheCat_Comic Strip1

Use a strip of paper (I cut a regular drawing sheet in half lengthwise). Divide the strip into 4 parts and compose your drawing.

Painting the story

Blue oil pastels make a very vibrant choice for Pete. You could use tempera if you like. The rest of the details were all done with oil pastels. We used water colour wash for background, to keep it simple. This group of kids are new to watercolours so I had to guide them on how much water to use. The younger ones still ended up using too much, the water running into other colours. But the effect was nice, all the same.

PetetheCat_Comic Strip2

PetetheCat_Comic Strip3

Finishing touch

More details can be added once dry. Then, stand back and enjoy your own comic strips.

PetetheCat_Comic Strip4

Paper Mache Monster Project: Where the Wild Things are

Did you read my review and corresponding art project of “Where the wild things are”? This is one of those projects which turned out to be both more difficult and more successful than you’d imagine. This is also a project that would fill your heart with joy in the process of creating and teaching. If there’s anything that can make it better, that would be a visual treat of a video tutorial. So here you go….

Wild Things Paper Mache Project

WildThings2

 

Inspiration for the wild thing

One night, Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another. His mother called him “WILD THING!”. And Max said, “I’LL EAT YOU UP!”. So he was sent to bed without eating anything.

That very night…

What happens next is a grasping fiction that attracts adults and children alike. Imagination runs wild in this classic story book from Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are was first published in 1963 and if it still remains one of the most beloved children’s books, it’s not without reason.

The beautifully illustrated story book demonstrates the little boy’s feelings, emotions and fantasies. The character of Max is easily identified with most children and even adults’ childhood memories. After going on a wild rumpus in his imaginative world, Max wants to return to where he belongs, to his bedroom where he finds supper waiting for him.

Working with Paper Mache

I had always shied away from form art projects, but after reading “Where the wild things are” a couple of times with my son, I couldn’t help choosing a Paper Mache Wild Things project for the next lesson. It was a messy business. But it was less chaotic than I expected. The children behaved remarkably well too, and in 2 sessions, we had our own wonderful wild thing paper mache figures.

WildThings1