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June 22, 2015

Differentiation Guide: Sloppy Slimy Science

*Please note* This blog is intended for campers (ages 3+) but toddler teachers may find some ideas easy to adapt. Toddler teachers are also encouraged to review the toddler-specific differentiation ideas found in the curriculum notes.


Sloppy slimy fun isn’t just about the mess! Opportunities to mIMG_0203 copyeasure, experiment, create, and enjoy are all presented as teachers facilitate meaningful exploration of goopy and interesting materials. In the examples below,  the focus in on “more than just the goop.”  What skills can students develop throughout the week? How can we differentiate the activities for children in our care? Let’s find out!

Measuring Concepts

  • To challenge children who quickly tire of messy play, or who need a literacy boost, provide children with a “recipe card” (or challenge them to make their own!) and the corresponding mixing cups and allow them to mix up their own batch of playdough, oobleck, or flubber! Students can experiment with the measurements and observe what would happen if they added too much of one ingredient to the mixture.

Scientific Inquiry

  • In the Weighing Goop center, differentiate this activity and further encourage the process of scientific inquiry. When students are making observations, challenge them to go beyond the process of noticing and make a hypothesis about the materials that they are weighing. If they mix ½ cup flour with ½ cup water do they think it will be heavier or lighter than 1 cup of water? Why? Record their hypothesis and then encourage them to carry out their experiments.

Sloppy Slimy Artistry

  • Artists experiment with new and innovative mediums to create an exciting masterpiece to share with the world. Provide students with sloppy slimy materials to create art! Mix up some oobleck, add paint, and see what happens as you add it to the easel. The Open Ended Easel provides opportunity for just that! Once your sloppy slimy masterpieces have dried, extend this activity and compare the texture of the materials. Did they dry bumpy, smooth, scratchy? Allow your students to lead the discussion and decide!
  • Some students may not be willing to dig in and touch the sloppy slimy sensory material. Remember to always provide an alternative. Place a piece of paper in a zip loc bag and let them create art while squishing around materials that way. Another way to differentiate this activity for children who are hesitant is to provide materials that they can use as an extension of their body. For example: a popsicle stick or straw.

Dissolving Experiments

  • Set up a center with containers inside of a sensory bin with a pitcher of water. Place sugar, salt, flour, rice, and any other materials you’d like students to try. Be sure to include spoons. Campers will try out dissolving the different materials in water and record their findings using pictures and words. Create a graphic organizer to help them organize their thoughts!
  • Differentiate this activity for campers who already have keen observation skills by asking them to form a hypothesis prior to carrying out their experiment. Ask campers to make guesses about what they think will happen based on the properties of the materials that are provided to them. For example: “When we put salt in the water it stopped dissolving when we added too much. What do you think will happen if we add sugar to the water?”

My favorite Experiment

Have campers draw or write a reflection of their week focused on their favorite experiment. Writing begins with something interesting and develops as the picture or story unfolds. Help campers find the little spark that will make them a writer today. Help Leap campers add words to their pictures, describing what made their chosen experiment so memorable.

Utilize purposeful use of technology in order to differentiate this activity for children who may need a little help recalling past experiences. During experiments, take pictures of the process and the product of the campers work. Then, provide a tablet with a photo album filled with experiments from the past week. Ask campers questions about what they remember about each experiment. What did they like about them? What did they dislike about them?

More Sloppy Slimy OptionsIMG_6023

  • Soapy Slime- 1 cup of soap flakes, 3 cups warm water, food coloring. See an example
  • Sponge Toss- Soak a sponge in water and play a game of sponge toss. Increase or decrease the distance between two students in order to differentiate the difficulty of this activity!
  • Try a Jell-O and vinegar experiment. See an example
  • Ice Cube Melt- Divide players into two teams and line up. First player on each team is given an ice cube. The child rubs the ice cube between their hands for as long as possible to make it melt. When he/she gets too cold, the ice cube is passed to the next child in line. The first team to melt the ice cube wins!
  • Freeze some Jell-O!
  • Find more sensory options here and in your curriculum implementation manual.

Helpful Hints for Sloppy Slimy Efficiency

Sometimes sloppy slimy fun can seem a little overwhelming. Thankfully, there are a number of tips and tricks that should alleviate the stressful moments so that you and your kiddos can enjoy your time together.

  • Utilize small groups- This allows for those meaningful and powerful interactions all-the-while making it possible to stay attuned to student behavior.
  • Always wear smocks during messy play- It’s a given – children are going to get messy this week. One way to prevent unsightly stains and extra messes is to make sure all of your students are wearing a smock.
  • Line the table with bulletin board paper or newspaper- This helps to contain the mess and allow for easy clean up. Once the center is done being utilized this makes it simple to take the paper off of the table and voila!- cleanup is a breeze.
  • Take activities outside- Taking activities outside provides an ideal space for sloppy slimy play!

Additional ways to enhance your science curriculum:

  • Nurture your campers natural sense of curiosity– Children naturally have a want to know more about the world around them. Build off of their natural sense of wonder and curiosity as they explore and play. Follow their lead, and add observations to their day!
  • Help your campers develop their own understanding of the natural world.– Children aren’t hardwired to sit still and focus attention on your words. Provide opportunities for campers to experiment and develop their own understanding of how the world functions.
  • Encourage students to become problem solvers.- All too often children are told how and why to do things. AllIMG_2097ow your campers the opportunity to develop problem solving skills. This empowers children to think outside the box and come to conclusion on their own terms rather than relying on others to explain everything for them.


  • Introduce campers to basic elements of scientific reasoning.- Looking for evidence and testing predictions are just two of the elements that children develop while they are engaged in scientific exploration!