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Sensory Mixtures    


    There are so many different ways to have fun with our children. (They have fun, we clean up the mess!) Here are a few suggestions and resources to perk up the winter doldrums.

    A good book for even more great suggestions is: Kids Koncotions by John E. Thomas. It has very good recipes, including Scratch-n-Sniff paint. Here are some modeling doughs. Each has its own texture and sensations.


Salt Dough:

4 cup salt

1 cup corn starch


1. Mix salt and corn starch. 2. Add enough water to form a paste. 3. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly.


Sand Dough:

1 cup sand

cup corn starch

cup hot water

What to do: 1. Mix. 2. Cook, until very thick.3. Form objects. Let objects sun dry for 12 hours 

Sawdust Dough:

1 cup sawdust (wood pellets that have been dissolved with water will also work.)

cup wall paper paste

What to do: 1. Mix sawdust and wallpaper paste. 2. Add enough water to make a soft dough. 3. Use immediately


Flubber - this is very elastic and similar to "GAK":

2 cup Elmer's glue

1 cup warm water

food coloring

4 teas. borax

1 1/3 cup water.

What to do: 1. Mix glue, water and food coloring together. 2. Mix borax and water together. 3. Mix glue mixture and borax mixture.  4. Beat and knead until all of the water has been incorporated into the mixture.
NOTE: Colored glues may not work. Flubber does not come out of carpet, clothing or hair when dry. 

How to use Flubber: Use as a sensory mixture on trays or in a water table. Add straws so children can blow bubbles in trays. Add cutting tools such as plastic pizza cutters and plastic knives so children can cut it.



Goop is easy to make and easy to clean up. Children are fascinated by it's unique properties. It oozes and pours like a liquid yet appears solid when squeezed.

1 part water

1 part cornstarch

Mix together - additional water or cornstarch can be added.

How to use Goop: Pour onto trays or in tubs and manipulate with hands. Add small plastic containers and spoons for scooping and pouring. Pour goop onto trays and drive plastic cars through it. Add small plastic animals to goop. Goop will spoil. It can be saved by freezing. Do not pour down the sink. It can clog the drain.


Mud Pie:

4 parts loam

1 part salt

1 part flour

1. Mix dry ingredients. 2. Add water to the desired consistency. Use as any other sensory mixture. It dries hard.


Cloud Dough:

8 parts flour

1 part baby oil

Mix ingredients well by hand.

How to use: This mixture is soft yet holds its shape like wet sand. Put it in tubs or a water table and allow children to shape it with their hands.



1 bar Ivory Soap

1 quart of hot water

What to do: Finely grate soap then pour in hot water and stir. Mixture will thicken as it sits. Additional soap or water may be added to create the desired consistency. Store slime in jars between use. Color with food coloring. Powdered tempura settles to the bottom to create lumps.

Hot to use slime:  Add marbles to slime. Pour in tubs or water tables and manipulate with hands.


Clean Mud:

1 roll toilet paper

1 bar Ivory soap - Coarsely grated or finely slivered

What to do: In a large tub, unroll 6-8 layers of toilet paper and sprinkle soap. Repeat layering of paper and soap until all is used. Add 1 gallon of warm water and let set overnight. How to use: Pour into tubs or water table and manipulate with hands. Spread on paper and sprinkle with glitter and let dry or add glitter to the mixture.

Some other sensory mixtures we can use are:


Shaving cream:

Don't forget the spatulas, spoons, and small plastic bags to squeeze out the shaving cream like frosting.


Mashed Potatoes:

Use instant or the real thing, cooled to Luke warm. When really cold it is a great way to teach hot and cold.


Corn starch:

A powder, thicker than talc and not as dangerous to breathe. It squeaks under the fingers and is fun to feel.



Ice is an overlooked art material. It adds an extra sensory dimension and it is cheap!

Ice Painting:

Freeze tempura paint in ice cube trays. Draw with frozen paint on paper, sidewalk and windows.


Ice Cube Painting:

Squirt scented shampoo onto trays or tabletop. Sprinkle powdered tempura paint onto the shampoo. Spread the shampoo and paint with the ice cubes.


Colored Ice Melting and Color Mixing:

Darkly color water with food coloring. Pour water into mini ice cube trays. Fill clear plastic cups with warm water. Add colored ice cubes and have children stir water with craft sticks and see what happens.


Additional Ideas For Using Ice:

1. Draw with ice on a warm sidewalk or other surface.

2. Melt ice with salt or colored salt

3. Freeze bowls of water and then use them as "ice mountains: by turning them upside down and adding toy cars. Extend the activity by adding shaving cream to the ice ("snow")

We need your ideas for sensory activities. What do you do in this area? Think of creative ideas to stimulate sight, touch, and smell. Send a quick note to let us know!

Some of these ideas were taken from Magic Mixtures Recipes for Fun and Learning, a homemade book by Heidi Stalder April 1997