Give kids time for slime
Slime is everywhere, at least if you have or work closely with children.
Rather than purchase slime that might be laced with questionable or harmful ingredients, two local experts agree that making it at home can be fun, safe and, yes, even educational.
Kids of all ages seem to love slime, whether it's colorful, aromatic or even being excreted from the backside of a plastic animal. Why is slime such a hit?
Brittany Wedd, Executive Director of Discovery Station, the children's museum in Hagerstown, said slime engages kids' creative side. "It's a really excellent sensory activity, so it can get the sensory elements, and kids are just really excited about slime," she said.
Anthony Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Beacon House in Hagerstown agreed. "I think it's a tactile thing. And (kids) really like that they can create it themselves. They really like that it's really easy, it's really simple, so it kind of builds their confidence. So they can do something they know they can do and have success with. And they can make different varieties. That's why i think as a trend it hasn't died. It keeps on growing, kids keep on loving it," he said.
EMBRACING YOUR SLIME
Making slime at home can be a way for kids to tap into their creativity and bond with their parents. "It gets them experimenting," Wedd said.
"I just think it's fun and you can get kids to create and engage. And that's what Beacon House and Discovery Station are all about, we love to get kids creating, we love for families to do it together, because kids feel supported, kids create with their parents, it builds relationships, and it keeps that dialogue going," Williams said.
Both Wedd and Williams encourage families to practice safety at home while making slime.
Wedd said the recipe she follows includes liquid starch, Elmer's glue and shaving cream, which gives slime a fluffy texture. She said she discourages the use of reactive ingredients. "We encourage families not to use borax because it can cause chemical burns," she said.
But, Wedd said, there are still plenty of ways to "dress up" your concoction. "We also add food dye or paint to give it the different colors. You can add foam balls or even Lego pieces, anything that would add to it to give it the sensory element. Some people will use essential oils too, to give it (pleasant) smells."
For really creative types, try magnetic slime. "One of the things that we've done in the past is make magnetic slime, with iron filings. And that's really, really messy, so if you are adventurous, I would recommend making that. But keep in mind that it's really, really messy. Kids can see magnets attract the slime and that's really, really cool," Wedd said, adding that iron filings can be purchased online at Amazon.com.
Williams said the slime recipe used at Beacon House consists mainly of Elmer's glue and saline or contact solution. "You need to know what chemicals you're using, following safety procedures and knowing to wash your hands and clean up afterwards," Williams said.
Williams said that basic slime doesn't stick to clothing and other items once it's set up. "Once you play around with it, after awhile it's not as sticky and it depends what kind of slime you make, too. The type that I make with Elmer's glue and the saline solution, it's pretty solid and doesn't stick," he said.
If you do have a mishap with slime, Wedd said most types of slime can be cleaned up relatively easily. Still, the easiest way to avoid cleaning a slimy mess, is to avoid making a mess. "We always recommend having children use it at a table or a counter, that way it's not getting into carpet. It's a lot more difficult to get it out of carpet than it is clothing," she said.
When making slime, too, make sure you use a space where clean up is simple. "It gets sticky and it gets on stuff, so making sure there's a dedicated area that can get messy. (Use a) craft table, or a kitchen counter, someplace for easy cleanup where it doesn't stick to other stuff or get other stuff stuck into it," he said.
Top photo: Children make slime at an activity at Beacon House in downtown Hagerstown. Making slime at home can be a fun and educational activity for children and parents. (Submitted photo)
Click here for slime recipes used by Beacon House staff.