Gelatin Giggles for Summer Fun!

Outdoor art is great for summer when we can enjoy time outside in the light and sunshine. If you love COLOR and gem-like quality of the Gelatin Giggles pictured here, you will want to add this simple sensory activity to your summer plan. Because we are making memories here with our summer, right? And there’s nothing much more memorable than colored gelatin slipping through your fingers on a perfect summer day. 

These photos are from Sari Abram’s 3-year-old classroom at Pressman Academy in LA where I recently a led a 30 minute Gelatin Giggles activity on a corner of the playground. I took in eight blocks of gelatin, plastic eyedroppers, five bottles of Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, and an art tray with a 1” lip to contain the mess. I volunteered for this because I’m developing a new workshop called “Messy Art with 2’s and 3’s.” I had already tried Gelatin Giggles with school-age children, but I wanted to see how very young children would respond. I learned that the best way to introduce Gelatin Giggles to a group of toddlers was to have them take turns two at a time, while I managed some semblance of control over the paint. As a firm believer in messy art, I also recognize there’s ultimately an “art” to controlling the mess while allowing children the experience of freedom with the materials.

Things were pretty clean and tidy as the first two children began playing with the eyedroppers on the white art tray. I instructed them to fill their eyedropper with the color of their choice, then stick the eyedropper into the gelatin chunk and squirt the paint inside. They learned that if they didn’t stick their eyedropper in very far, some of the color would splash back out on them, surprise!

They also learned that their eyedropper would sometimes suck up the gelatin and create a colored gelatin snake, surprise!

Before they finished their turn at the sensory table, I offered the opportunity to select a second color and inject that into the gelatin. Then they could watch the colors blend and pick up a chunk of gelatin in their hands and hold it up to the sunlight. We didn’t clean up between children, so the colors and gelatin chunks accumulated on the tray as the activity progressed.

To create Gelatin Giggles, purchase unflavored gelatin (Knox makes one and others are generally sold next to the flavored gelatins at the grocery store). Use less water than called for to make your “giggles” a bit more solid than usual. Here’s the recipe:

Knox Gelatin Mold: The ratio is 3/4 cup water to 1 packet of Knox. Take the number of cups of water your container holds and DIVIDE by .75 This is how many packets of Knox you need. In a saucepan, heat the water over low heat, add the packets of gelatin. After it dissolves pour it into your container. Let set over night. **BE SURE TO USE OIL OR SPRAY YOUR CONTAINER WITH PAM FIRST! Wait for a sunny day and unmold your gelatin onto art trays or a sand and water table.

Did I talk enough about the exciting presence of light and color? Check out how this glob of green sparkles in the sun! Does it make you think of stained glass windows or a sparkling crystal? If you own a diamond ring or anything cut from crystal, bring that to class and show children how these minerals are faceted, which means they have flat planes that refract color and light. Amazingly, clear gelatin also breaks along facets in similar fashion, which is why Gelatin Giggles look like gemstones in the light.

There’s nothing like group art experiences to bring children together and create a sense of collaboration in the summer. Gelatin Giggles is a perfect way to introduce sensory art while the weather is warm enough for outdoor play and the sun can provide a brilliant light source to enhance experiments with light and color.

If you like this art idea, you’ll probably also enjoy “Ice Tunnels” and “Sand Tray Gemstones”, two of 18 Colorations® Liquid Watercolor Activities in my book Smart Art Ideas 2. Thanks for checking in, and I look forward to reading your comments. If you would like to have your own art ideas included in a future post please send me an email at areyner@discountschoolsupply.com. Together we can continue to build a strong art and creativity community.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor
SuperSafe Plastic Droppers (12SSD)
Brawny Large Art Tray (RECTRAY)
Smart Art Ideas 2 (MOREART)

From grocery store: Knox or other brand clear gelatin

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

The Messy Art Studio

What I love best about blogging is how we stay connected and share new ways to have fun with art. It’s so refreshing to know there are other “like minded” spirits out there. I always have fun with messy art, especially the kind of OUTRAGEOUS fun you see in this photo, sent to me by a fellow arts educator, Donna Bernstein.

Donna owns The Messy Artist, an art studio for children in New Jersey. She recently sent me a blog comment, so I looked up her website and I found it over-the-top inspirational. Just the name of her art business was enough to make me smile. Donna enrolls over 150 students a month in her afterschool art classes and delivers 15 Messy Art Birthday Parties a month. What a creative and successful entrepreneur! She must have boundless energy and a very happy staff. Imagine all those happy children and families, being exposed on a regular basis to the pleasures and values of sensory play.

To promote the VALUE of messy art, Donna highlights these words on her website:
Exciting, exploratory, creative, imaginative, fabulous, just plain fun.

Kudos to you, Donna, that pretty much sums it up. The ideas and the photos from The Messy Artist studio were so much fun, I knew you would enjoy seeing them too.

Check out these two boys messing around with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ on top of shaving cream. Donna was excited to tell me that she buys all her art supplies from Discount School Supply® and first learned a lot of her messy art ideas from our catalog. Everything here is written up as a Lesson Plan in Smart Art Ideas Activity Book and Smart Art Ideas 2.

This larger photo shows the group process at a Messy Art Birthday Party. Donna says when older siblings come to a birthday party, they sometimes have even more fun with the sensory play than the little ones! She went on to share her ideas about art in society: “In today’s society where children are so structured and pushed to grow up it’s great to see them just being kids and playing with goop, slime or finger paint.”

Here’s some orange colored Sensational Spaghetti in a large sensory tub, one of the Messy Artist’s signature projects. You’ll find the lesson plan in Smart Art, but here’s a copy (click here for the pdf) of it for you to see and print out.

Now check out this Sensory Box that Donna keeps filled with colored rice; it’s like a sandbox but for indoor use. Donna pre-colors rice with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ and keeps her sensory box filled with it. It’s the hit of her studio! Donna found that outdoor sand boxes typically don’t have a strong bottom or cover, so she had her husband make this to her specifications. It’s 4′ x 4′ with a bench all around for kids to sit on. It’s also big enough for kids to sit inside. It can accommodate about six kids inside and 8-10 if they are sitting around it.

The full-on body contact with colored rice and the sensations of this total body immersion are unforgettable. In fact, Donna says as children grow up, leave home and come back to visit her studio, they always first ask if she still has the colored rice to sit in!

Donna’s photos inspired me to make colored rice and spaghetti at my next conference, so I opened up my sensory collage box. There I discovered some colored rice I had forgotten about, I made it over two years ago! That’s some pretty good “shelf life.” I kept it because I loved this color combination, I even called it “mardi gras” rice. I colored it with lime, black, red, violet and magenta Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™. I always color some rice with black Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ because black gives such good contrast against the bright colors. And for the same reason, I throw in a little plain white.

To make this multi-colored, “mardi gras” rice, simply take dry rice and place it in different plastic zip lock bags, and make up each color separately. Pour, drizzle or spray Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ into the bag, shake it up, then pour it all out on a paper plate to dry. When the rice colors are dry, mix them together like the mardi gras mix, then keep other colors pure for use in various types of collage.

Getting back to the colored spaghetti: The night before my conference I cooked up 3 boxes of differently shaped pasta, and stored them in large zip lock bags. Here you see them in my favorite sensory tub heading for their travels. If you don’t have good sensory tubs, try these! They are wonderful. I use mine constantly and they last for years.

Here we are at the San Diego Association of Family Child Care, where I just delivered a Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ workshop. The crowd was mesmerized! But of course they were, how often does a speaker bring out 3 pounds of pasta and begin coloring it?

I showed everyone how to place rice or pasta into a zip lock bag, add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, shake it up to distribute the color, then pour it out. We poured the rice out onto paper plates, but we poured the wet pasta into the sensory bins. Here we have a bag of wet rigatoni colored with magenta, followed by other wet pasta shapes colored with lime. Are we crazy? Perhaps, but it sure was fun!

By the way, one final note about coloring foods. If you work in a low income area, it’s not a good idea to use food as an art material for obvious reasons. In that case, try substituting ice cream salt, plain wooden beads, or shaving cream, they work just fine!

Contact Donna or check out her website at:
Donna Bernstein
Owner and Director
The Messy Artist, LLC
www.TheMessyArtist.com
973.378.2425

Materials Used:
Sand and Water Activity Tubs (TUBS)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ – set of 13 classic colors (13LW)
Smart Art Ideas – both books (ARTY) Paint’M Beads (PAINTM)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education