The Science of Slime (and How To Introduce Your Young Child to Science)

If you are the parent/teacher/grandparent/guardian of any child between the ages of 3 to 10, you are pretty much guaranteed to be familiar with slime.

For those of you who may have had the fortune of living under a rock the past 3 years, slime is a — well — slimy substance that is fun to make, play with, and then leave on chairs where mom later finds it and has to clean it up!

The first time we ever made slime was when my oldest had just turned 4 and we met friends over at Michaels for a free make-your-own slime workshop. The boys had an absolute blast mixing glue, contact solution, and baking soda, and I was amazed by how such common household staples could create such a fun concoction.

Since then, we have made slime several times at home, and I have since began implementing little science lessons here and there so that they are not only having fun, but learning something along the way! Since my boys are only 5 and 2, I don’t overcomplicate things by explaining things that are way over both of our heads, but I simply explain what is happening, followed by a re-affirming “isn’t that cool?”

By doing this, I am introducing my boys to science without being too overwhelming and we are spending some quality time together creating.

So, what is the science of slime?

Slime is chemistry (the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change), as when you mix certain chemicals/substances together, they become something new!

As per Elmer’s Glue’s website, Polymers are unique because they have qualities of both a solid and a liquid.  Solids are made of molecules that are bonded tightly together.  Liquid molecules spread out and break apart into pools or drops when they are poured from the container.  Polymers are special because they contain molecules that link together in a chain-like fashion enabling them to bend and stretch without breaking apart.  

How do you explain this to a preschooler? The way I do it is we look at each material used, examine if it’s wet, dry, hard, soft, etc., and then make note of how it all comes together in the end! Since my kids are 5 and 2, I don’t quiz them on it or make it overwhelming; we basically just examine the materials and what happens when they all come together.

howtomakeslime

How to make slime

If you have ever Googled slime recipes, you probably noticed that there are dozens of different ways to make it! That being said, how do you choose? For me, it comes down to what it the easiest to throw together and which contains ingredients we already have on hand.

So far, our favorite 3 recipes are:

  • 1 bottle glue (any color)

  • 1/4-1/2 cup liquid starch

  • 1/2 cup water

    Simply mix the three ingredients together (with a spoon or with your hands — I always opt for the spoon!) until it becomes to correct texture.

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  • 1 bottle glue (any color)

  • 3 cups shaving cream (NOT shave gel)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. contact lens solution

    Begin by adding your glue to the bowl, followed by the water and baking soda. Next, add the shaving cream, and top it off with the contact lens solution. Knead the concoction for 2-5 minutes and voila: you have fluffy slime!

    —-

  • 1 bottle glue (any color)

  • 1/2 tbsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. contact lens solution

    Like the others, you combine the three ingredients, whisk it together, and enjoy the slimy goodness!

What is your favorite way to make slime? We would love to hear your recipe in the comment!