I have been thinking about ways to expand Try This Tuesday to include some different ideas and perspectives, and one of the ideas I had was to ask some of the participants to “guest post.” So over the next few weeks, several of our readers will be sharing their ideas on this site.
For our first guest appearance, Frog’s Mom from 4 Green and Speckled Frogs is sharing a innovative twist on arts and crafts that takes her son’s sensory needs into account.
by Frog’s Mom
Here’s an art project for kids who love water, but hate art projects – there’s even a bit of science involved:
Frog has never been into arts and crafts. The fine motor skills, attention requirements, static visuals, and low proprioceptive input drive him away from any activity that involves sitting or standing still at a table and focusing on one thing. He will sample the textures and bite of the art supplies by putting them in his mouth, but then he is off and running.
I believe we all need a creative outlet so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about “other ways” to be creative. I’ve concluded that, for Frog, the sensory aspects of the activity need to be just right in order to make it motivating and fulfilling. This was the genesis of the Color Swirl.
We are a DIR/Floortime family. Going back to basics I know, even in a semi-structured activity, I want to follow Frog’s lead. I know that he needs deep proprioceptive input and likes to squeeze things. I know he can’t resist water, especially moving water, and he will put everything in his mouth. I know he loves to be outside and he loves to move.
Putting all of this together, I decided to make Gak, a mixture of cornstarch and water which produces a colloid. When mixed just right, the Gak will be solid under pressure when you squeeze it in your hand, but will turn to a runny liquid when the pressure is released. I mixed two boxes of generic cornstarch with water outside in Frog’s water table.
I got the Gak just about right. Frog took one feel and ran away.
This is not unusual, and I knew that if I left the mixture he would probably be back. But I decided to change it up a little. I added more water until I had a very milky looking liquid. Then I added four or five drops each of various colors of food coloring. The slight breeze began to move the colors around. When I dipped a couple of fingers in I could see, by the movement of the colors, how the water reacted to my touch. I brought Frog back to the table, and this time he stayed, experimented and watched. It reminded me of my old Magic Window toy – only this one you could really touch!
Even cooler, we could make art over and over by stirring our colors all together and starting over with new food coloring drops. After an hour of playing with the water, Frog came back to the table when all of the cornstarch had settled out. He climbed into the table and came up with the original Gak on his own.
Here’s a sampling of Frog and Mom’s art (click to see the YouTube video if it doesn’t show up for you) –
Please join in and share the creative solutions YOU have found to your own challenges. For more details on how to participate, click here.