Help your child measure the glue, cornstarch and toothpaste and put them into the paper bowl.
Let your child stir the ingredients together with a plastic spoon. If it is thick enough, he does not need to add water. If he prefers a lighter substance, he can slowly add 1 teaspoon or less of water to the bowl. He can mix the water in until he gets the desired consistency. If you’d like it to be a thick texture, like clay, you can leave it out overnight to set.
Let him pick out a color of food coloring and add one drop to the mixture. He should stir the color so it mixes in completely.
If the mixture is more clay-like, he can play around with it and make shapes. When he’s finished, he can put shapes on a paper plate to dry. He may wish to use cookie cutters or play dough molds to help create a well-defined shape. He can also roll the mixture into balls to create beads or marbles.
If the mixture has a more finger paint-like consistency, he can transfer it to a paper plate or piece of finger paint paper and play away! Play dough molds and cookie cutter shapes can also work for this consistency to make “stamps” or outlines of shapes. Or, he can just use his fingers to draw freehand letters and shapes.
If he enjoyed the creations, he can make more batches in different colors. Messy art always appeals to kids!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.