I have one book in my house I consider the go-to end-all of crafts and fun scientific experiments for kids. It's called "The Super Enormous Gigantic Collection of Kid Concoctions 2," written by John E. Thomas and Danita Thomas. I got the book as a thank-you gift for donating to Iowa Public Television a few years ago.
The book's experiments and crafts mostly are done with common items found around the house and cost only a few dollars, or less, each. I've used the book so often, and my kids have enjoyed the ideas so much, I decided to buy a Kid Concoctions book as an end-of-the-year-thanks-for-being-a-great-teacher gift for my son's first-grade teacher. I hope she gets as much school-room use out of it as I've gotten from it here at home.
The following recipe for "Magic Muck" comes from the book I have. Magic Muck is a liquid until you gather some in your hand and squeeze. Then it turns solid. Open your hand back up, and it converts to a liquid to slide through your fingers. The boys were absolutely fascinated. My husband, who is a chemist, was too. He wanted to take a container of it to show his co-workers. The messy factor was a big bonus for the boys, but extremely easy to clean up for me. The substance basically dissolves upon contact with more water.
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
5-7 drops washable food coloring (optional, the muck is just white if you don't color it)
Mix water and food coloring together in a small bowl. Slowly add cornstarch to water and food coloring mixture. Do not stir. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Pick up a handful of Magic Muck and squeeze it until it forms a hard ball. Open your hand and the Magic Muck will turn from a solid ball back into a liquid.
Tips: Experiment by adding different proportions of water and cornstarch. Or add a little glitter to make it sparkle.
A limited line of Kid Concoctions products, such as the kid-friendly paint brushes, can be found at Michael's Arts and Crafts at the moment. Danita Thomas told me this line has discontinued production, but her and her husband are set to launch a new line of Kid Concoctions products in early 2011 through Alex Toys. Favorite products, like their washable food coloring, will be re-launched and new products will be introduced, along with a new and updated book. The Kid Concoctions Web site currently has a 10-year anniversary book for sale that combines four of the Thomas' previous books, including the recipes I have in mine. After the new product line and book are launched, the Web site will expand the shopping offerings on its store link or will directly link to the Alex product page. For more information about the company and products, visit the Kid Concoctions Web site at www.kidconcoctionscompany.com.
****Magic Muck recipe reprinted with express permission from John E. and Danita Thomas, founders of Kid Concoctions and authors of "The Super Enormous Gigantic Collection of Kid Concoctions 2."