Friday, April 5, 2013

Magic Mud. Thank-You, Dr. Zed.

 Do any of the rest of you remember Dr. Zed, and his experiments from Owl magazine?  I used to get those Scholastic Book Orders every month, for books I could buy, and help our school earn a few books as resources...Those Scholastics still come home with the kids, and Owl, and it's younger sibling Chickadee are still out there, but I haven't seen good ol' Dr. Zed in a long of course, I went to the one place I KNEW I'd get some answers.  I googled it.  Not much was out there, because apparently, he has since retired from magazine fame....I did find a good pic of him in the Owl Magazine archives...
He had his own books too - I had, and still have, Dr. Zed's Dazzling Book of Science Activities.  It's out of print, these days. The ONE reason I wanted this book, the ONLY reason I wanted this book, so badly that I begged for DAYS to get it from the Scholastic orders, was the hope that it would have the recipe for the amazing and magical concoction known as Magic Mud.  Now, this was in the days pre- Pinterest, and Google, remember.  Even before the remarkable Interweb....
Much to my chagrin, it did not have the recipe, and for years after, I wondered how to make the magical stuff.  
As an adult now, I want to spare my children the misery and longing of never experiencing magic mud.  So, I have used the web, and all of the resources available to us in this amazing 21st century, and when kid #1 was old enough not to eat the stuff, she was introduced to magic mud!

Having a child with sensory issues (namely kid #2) has made experimenting with stuff like this all the more important and useful as a day-to-day tool for keeping mommy sane" as well as giving her some well needed tactile stimulation.  I'm going to share the recipe here with you now, with photos of our day yesterday, enjoying ourselves with it.

*Note - half of the enjoyment of magic mud is the MAKING of it.  If you are doing this with your kiddo, please let them help.  It will mean the world to them, and it will make it all the more a fun experience!  This WILL make a mess, be prepared for it.  But it is actually SUPER easy to clean up - it is very water soluble, and when dry vacuums up super easy.

You will need:  one large bowl or deep tray, one box of cornstarch, tap water, and some sort of colouring.  I've used Wilton cake dye, mixed into the water before adding it to the cornstarch.  Any food dye, or even juice would probably work.  Here`s B opening up the box of cornstarch.  She needed help ripping open the waxy-paper baggie inside.

 Step 1:  Dump cornstarch into bowl.  B is taking this very seriously.  To her, this needs to be as exact as when we are baking.  She doesn't realize that there's not really a way to do this wrong!


 Step 2:  B is mixing the Wilton icing dye that I put in the water.  I was smart enough not to let her put the coloured paste in herself, because I know it would have been a disaster.  That stuff stains before it is diluted, and B's self-control is, shall we say, lacking.  If you are using juice, or even regular food dye drops, your kiddo could probably enjoy adding it themselves....

Step 3:  Pour the coloured liquid into the cornstarch.  I used about 2.5 cups for the box of cornstarch, this is a 1 cup measuring cup in the picture, we refilled itHave towels on hand if you or your young one's aim or self control is questionable. 

Step 4:  Get messy!  Hands in, mix it up and play!  You will get the coolest textured goop ever.  Half liquid, half solid, both at the same time, neither...mix,  play, have FUN.  And not just your kiddo.  Get your own hands in there.  Even if you hate messy hands.  It's therapeutic.  Cathartic.

Pick up solid fistful of goo
Open fist - solid dryish mass turns to ooze

 The solid-liquid gooeyness of being able to pick up a solid "chunk" of the stuff, and then letting it ooze all liquidy back into the bowl is unbeatable.  Trust me.  

At this point I learned a new trick.  Put a towel under your play area.  The rationale is two-fold.  One, it makes the clean-up WAY easier.  Take towel out to yard and shake.  Wash towel.  

Two, we discovered that magic mud makes great mud pies on the towel, as the liquid is absorbed into the towel....and neat little dry-ish mud balls too.  More water was added after to the bowl to re-moisten the mud.

It is also fun to add toys - any plastic ones that can be easily rinsed off - this stuff doesn't stick permanently.  It rinses easily and cleanly away. 

This activity easily falls into my acceptable indoor project ratio of:

[Fun time]=/>[prep time]+[clean time]
where =/> means equal or greater to.
Have fun!


  1. Try throwing it at a wall! (In the shower maybe?) It hits the wall, cracks like its broken, and then runs down the wall in oozy runnels :)

  2. we've done that! I don't let her do that right now, because of the mess leading from her chair to the tub...and the temptation to throw anywhere BUT the tub...grin. we will do the fence outside this summer...