Try This Tuesday #8: Color Swirl — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Try This Tuesday #8: Color Swirl

by Trish


Try This Tuesday

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.

Trish can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Friday in addition to hosting Try This Tuesday. You can also find Trish at her blog, Another Piece of the Puzzle.

Email Author    |    Website About Trish

Married for over 16 years and mom of a six year old son with autism, I spend most of my time as my Little Guy's case manager/advocate/ cheerleader/everything else.

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1 Maddy September 9, 2008 at 8:00 am

Great idea! I did not know that Gak was a colloid. There again I didn’t know that Gak was a real word!

Well done you.

2 Trish September 9, 2008 at 8:04 am

Thanks for an awesome idea, Frog’s Mom! If it wasn’t dark as night and pouring rain outside, I might have to try this today. 🙂

3 Brandi September 9, 2008 at 9:12 am

Great Video. I loved the music. This looks really fun. Thanks.

4 Frog's Mom September 9, 2008 at 10:34 am

Hi Maddy,

I didn’t know it was a collide either until I looked up the recipe on a science website. Guess I learned something at Frog’s School :0)

Hi Trish,

Thanks for inviting me! Sorry to hear about your weather. We are spending oodles of time outside knowing that our sunshine won’t last much longer.

5 Frog's Mom September 9, 2008 at 10:40 am

I love that music too. It’s from the “Chocolat” movie soundtrack. When I watched the video I realized the first “demo” swirl turned into my self portrait – a bit Picasso-esc. I don’t really have a green nose! – well, not usually anyways :0)

6 Susan September 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

I love gak! Thanks love the idea of doing it outside

7 Jessica September 9, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Too cool!

8 Jenny September 9, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Okay, I need to try this. When I was reading about Frog, I was thinking that sounds exactly like Jackson! Loves water, puts everything in his mouth, won’t stay still, gets frustrated with art projects – that’s my son!

I am SOOOO impressed with your creativity. What a great idea you came up with. One question – does food coloring stain? I would assume it does, so I guess I could just put him in some old clothes that could get stained. Thanks for sharing this!

9 Julie September 9, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Very cool! Thank you for this!

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