You might be rolling your eyes – ANOTHER post about slime Karissa? That tired old goopy mess? Aren’t kids totally done with that trend? Move on, girl!
And yes. I’ve posted about slime a couple times:
- Homemade Layered Slime Jars with Ombre Effect
- How To Throw a Slime Party at the Library (and why you should!)
But are kids totally done with slime? No way. In fact, only 20% of the kids at my Space Slime program had ever made slime before! Plus, slime was a thing when I was a kid. It’s not a brand new trend that just poofed into reality. It HAS been popularized by YouTube and Instagram in the last 5 years. But there’s a couple things beyond YouTube that have kept, and will keep kids coming back to slime for years:
- It’s an easy, effective science experiment. There is something incredible about mixing two liquids together, and watching them change before your eyes. Something that could inspire a life long love of science.
- It’s tactile. This has been said thousands of times already about slime, but it deserves to be said again. Slime gives kids something to do with their hands while they try to relax. Many kids describe playing with slime as calming and satisfying.
- It allows for creative self-expression. Talk to a room full of kid about slime, and it won’t take long to see how different types of slime become part of a kid’s identity. You have your glittery slimes, fluffy slimes, gross slimes, pink slimes, brown slimes, clear slimes, chunky slimes, perfect smooth slimes, thick slimes, smelly slimes, slimes that look beautiful in a jar, etc. If you run your slime program in a certain way, there can be an element of artistry to the slime.
- It is highly-engaging and screen-free. A young brain needs play-based activities away from a screen to develop to it’s full potential. Some kids even talk about craving a screen-free activity. Slime has the appeal to hold their attention. I highly encourage librarians and educators to dig into the Children’s Screentime Network Resource Library for more information on children’s health and screen time.
Chemistry Mini Lesson
I brought Space Slime to my new library job, and I added a PowerPoint and a mini lesson on Chemistry. Feel free to download and use the PowerPoint in your programs or classroom. Leave a comment and let me know how it went. Some tips:
- Ask the group if they’ve ever made slime before and facilitate a brief discussion about their experiences: What makes a “good” slime, why do they like slime, what is the best slime they’ve played with.
- Ask kids to try to explain how slime works before the lesson starts. This way you can assess their knowledge level and determine how much detail you need to cover.
- Ask if they can name any products containing PVA or Borate Ion before revealing the answers.
- Keep this part short and sweet.
- Put a YouTube compilation of satisfying slime videos on as kid are arriving, and as they are making the slime.
Now onto the actual slime making part!
Ontarian Librarian’s Ultimate Slime Recipe:
- 1 part Tide Free and Gentle Detergent
- I use this brand because it is unscented, clear, and gentle on hands. Other recipes list regular Tide, which also works well, but it has a strong scent, and turns the slime blue.
- 4 parts Clear Elmer’s Glue
- I love the subtle shine of a clear glue slime. The slime won’t be perfectly clear, because of miniature bubbles from the detergent, but it will accept colour well, and has a pearly sheen that white slime doesn’t.
- Wilton’s Icing Colors
- I have tried every colourant under the sun, and this is 100% the best one. I bought my 12 colour pack from Micheals Craft Store. It is designed to not water down cupcake icing, and it won’t water down your slime either. The colours are vibrant and mix well together. You only need a dab of each to make a big impact on slime.
- Star Sequins and Gold Foil and what ever other decorations you have on hand
You may need to add more detergent or glue if the slime isn’t coming together well. If it is too thin, add more detergent to create more molecular bonds. If it is too thick, and is breaking apart instead of stretching, add more glue. If the slime is super globby and not forming a smooth consistency, try mixing it with warm hands, or running it under warm water. Warmth and movement help the chemical reaction take place.
Swirly Space Slime Design
Have kids separate the slime into 3 different cups and colour each one differently. The best part is stretching these parts out and watching the galaxies form as you mix them together.
Set Up Tips
- Use Table Covers. The food colouring can stain.
- Prefill Mason Jars with glue. This will save a lot of time and mess. When the time comes you can go around adding the detergent.
- Have the decoration table at the front, supervised by an adult. I recommend adding the colorant yourself, as it can stain clothing. Also you will have a sense of how much colorant is needed (tiny dabs).
And that’s that! It’s not hard to add a little bit of science to your already popular slime programs. As libraries, I believe we should be trying to enhance every program we run with as much educational and artistic value as possible. We’re not a classroom, but we are a place of learning. Our learning is largely self-directed and exploratory (think, kids wandering through the stacks picking out their own books), and we should bring that sense of wonder into our programs.