Friday, January 13, 2012

Clean Mush “Snow” -- A How-To for Sensory Diet Play

What do you do when there is no snow left outside and your children still want to play in some white, wet stuff in celebration of the snow-theme you've been focusing on?

Try out:

Clean Mush
a sensory experience for all ages 
  • a shower curtain, tablecloth or other floor protector (to minimize the mess that is sure to overflow)
  • an old cheese grater
  • 1 bar of Ivory soap
  • a cutting board or plate (optional for grating soap upon, but a great idea for adding additional tactile opportunities into the activity since the grated soap will then need to be transferred from cutting board to bin)
  • a good-sized bin (We discovered our first bin was not large enough and had to transfer our materials to a large dish tub, which worked perfectly; a lidded storage bin would also work nicely since you could then just cover the mixture for later use.)
  • 2-3 rolls of toilet paper
  • 1/3 cup of Borax
  • warm water in a pitcher
  • optional figurines, spoons, scoops, etc. for playing with
  • lidded plastic containers (for packing the mixture into in order to save it for play another day)

1.  Depending on the age and ability of your children, grate the Ivory soap or have your children do it.

 2.  Enjoy smelling the grated soap together for extra olfactory input.

3.  Offer plenty of time for children to discover the tactile properties of the grated soap:  It can be squished together to form little snow balls.

4.  Transfer the soap into plastic bin.

5.  Enjoy the fun of unraveling tolls of toilet paper.   

 Encourage tearing off of sheets and balling some up...

...unrolling it from different heights or rolling it out along a hallway and chasing after it, etc. 

The more levels your child gets at while unrolling the better.  While your child is having fun, some balance and heavy work can naturally occur.

6.  Pile the paper into the bin.

7.  Measure out and add 1/3 cup of Borax.

8.  Pour in enough warm water to saturate the soap-toilet paper-Borax mixture.

9.  Dig in with your bare hands to mix, mash...

 ...and moosh to your heart’s content.

10.  Then, play away with your bare hands...

...or with figurines, perhaps making snow forts by pushing the mush to the walls of the bin and hollowing out a space for figurines to shelter themselves.

Sensory and Skill Highlights

Teamwork transferring bins...
  • Motor Coordination/Planning
  • Olfactory Input
  • Tactile Input
  • Measuring
  • Practical Life: Grating
  • Creative/Imaginative Play
  • Cooperation

Quick Tips/Extensions

  • The name “Clean Mush” seems to come from the soapy ingredients used.  We found it had little to do with how our floors ended up even though we had put an old shower curtain beneath our sensory experience space.  Be prepared to find bits of white stuff around even after cleaning and sweeping up.
    • For sensory defensive children, tools such as wooden spoons, scoops, etc. – or even a plastic bag over the hand – can encourage more enjoyable play.  Putting favorite figurines into the mix for children to dig out can also help.  Just be prepared to use a toothbrush to clean them up afterward, as the mush does not come off nooks and crannies with water alone.

    • Alternately, if a child is reluctant to touch the mush after getting some stuck to finger, as happened with our Jack, simply let the child observe you having fun playing with it.  Take up a small piece of mush, roll it in your hands, pat it into a pancake, roll it in a ball, clap it together.  Offer a small piece to your child to brush, pat or clap off your hands.
    •  For ease of sculpting fun with the mush, go easy on the amount of warm water you add.  We did and were able to make snowballs, snow forts, etc.
    • Or, simply squeeze as much water as you can out of a handful of mush before sculpting with it.
    • When playing with children of different age levels, divide the mush so small hands can explore it while big hands make their own creations. 
    • Don't be afraid to get feet into it, too!
    • Easily transform this activity into a color mixing one, by separating the dry mixture into three bins and adding red, yellow or blue water to each.  Then, mix the different colored mush together to see what happens. 
    • To add a sense of scientific discovery to the experience, before making the mush, ask children about the nature of each of the ingredients (hard, soft, powdery, wet, etc.).  Then, ask them to predict how mixing them together will affect them.  In each step of the process, note changes in the property of each ingredient, as well as when you can no longer separate the ingredients.  Alternately, experiment with what happens to Clean Mush left out in a flattened patty, a small ball and a big clump as opposed to the same types of mush shapes left in covered containers.  Try freezing some, too. 
    • To add an element of following directions, or to provide a social story for your child, feel free to print this post out, cut it up and paste it into a picture-based direction menu/social story.  (I really wanted to make one here today, but just do not have time to create a new document, get it into a pdf, etc.  But, I did want to throw the idea out there.)

      What other “snowy” sensory experiences do you enjoy inside?  Any favorite variations or extensions for using Clean Mush?  Do share in a comment.  Thanks!


      Cris said...

      What a lovely activity and wghat a complete and thorough post!!
      I love the last picture, the one with some of your children's feet inside the bin. This must have been great fun.

      Hippie4ever said...

      I would think twice before allowing a child to handle Borax. Check out this article:

      Nicole said...

      I agree with Hippie4ever; do not let your kids touch Borax. This recipe works just as well without the Borax. Here is the link to my 'White Mud' recipe:

      Martianne said...

      Cris, it was great fun, thanks. And, Hippie4eva and Nicole. thank you for the concern, info and link - I'll try w/o Borax next time.

      Nicole said...

      Last week, my girls and I went to the local science museum and they had flubber (made with borax) available for the children. I emailed the museum to ask about this recipe. The Senior Science Educator was kind enough to respond with this message:
      "Thank you for sharing your concerns about Flubber with us. In my research and readings of the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on Borax, I have learned that most of the danger posed by Borax is through inhalation of the powder (the form that Borax is sold in), exposure to broken skin or ingestion in large quantities. In order to alleviate these concerns and keep visitors safe, we keep the powdered Borax locked in a cabinet in our staff offices where young visitors do not have access-- even accidental-- to it. Even when we make Flubber with visitors on the floor, we pre-dissolve the Borax into water so children don't have access to it in powdered form.

      We have also consulted with the Poison Control department to inquire about what would happen in the case of ingestion and how best to handle that. They have assured us that in the quantities used in our Flubber recipe (3 Tbs dissolved in approximately 6 cups of water and glue), the Borax would likely have a laxative effect and would not be toxic, even if a child were to eat the entire batch. We also rely on parents to use their common sense to not let children with irritated or broken skin use either flubber or playdough until their child's skin is healthy. Though again, in the quantities we're using and the way it chemically binds to the glue molecules, we've not experienced any complaints about skin irritation or rashes from Flubber."

      I thought you might find this information as useful as I did. Thank you for responding so kindly to my comment. Bless you! And thank you for blogging.

      Martianne said...

      Thank you for stopping by again to share. This is very informative and well worth keeping in mind. I try to reduce or eliminate toxins in our home and the easy step of dissolving the Borax if we choose to use in a future recipe of any kind makes sense. (although, I am not sure I will use it much anymore now that all this has been brought to my attention.)


      Related Posts with Thumbnails