O is for Opposites: Wet and Dry Sensory Play

Table of contents for O is for Opposites

  1. O is for Opposites: Wet and Dry Sensory Play

While learning about the letter O I thought it would be fun to explore opposites. I loved that all four of the kids could get involved in some way. We practiced acting out many of the opposite pairs, read many books, and tried to do some fun hands-on activities to help the kids remember opposites. By far the most memorable activity we did was exploring different substances and comparing how they felt wet to how they felt dry.

I’ll warn you in advance that this was MESSY. But it did keep my girls actively engaged for over two hours, and I think they would have played much longer if it wasn’t time for dinner. Truthfully I have typically avoided messy play in the past, but I am very quickly becoming a huge fan. There is so much learning, discovery and joy that can go along with a little bit (okay, sometimes a lot) of mess.

O is for Opposites: Wet & Dry Sensory Play

Wet vs. Dry Oatmeal

Our first exploration was with oatmeal. There was no real scientific purpose in this choice. I just grabbed something from the pantry. Both girls had their own pans of oatmeal. We felt the dry oatmeal and discussed some observations about its texture and smell.

Then each of the girls started adding water on their own. I didn’t tell them how much to add, and it was interesting to see them in action. Tinker who is almost 2 kept adding water until she ran out of water. Then she started transferring the water and oatmeal mixture back to the original bowl. Then she started transferring it to other bowls and the measuring cup. She spent almost the entire two hours happily playing with this wet oatmeal.

Lovey, who is 4, added a little water and stirred the oatmeal like she was baking something. She never actually touched it. She is a bit like me and doesn’t usually choose to get dirty on her own.  Then she noticed I was getting another pan of something, so she was eager to see it.

Oatmeal Sensory Play

Wet vs. Dry Cornmeal

I remembered seeing this wonderful  cornmeal sensory activity from Hands On: As We Grow, so the next thing I grabbed from the pantry was some cornmeal. Tinker was still very content playing with her oatmeal, so Lovey explored this one on her own.

O is for Opposites: Wet & Dry Sensory Play

At first she started much the same way as she did with the oatmeal. She poured a little water, stirred it around, and told me a little bit about how the cornmeal was changing. As she continued to add water, I asked her how it felt. She looked at me, stunned, and said, “You want me to touch it?”

After a little chuckle, I said, “You can touch it if you want to see how it feels. It’s okay to get messy.” I think for me it was an eye-opening moment. Maybe she doesn’t really mind getting messy. Maybe she just thinks I don’t want her to make a mess.

And before I knew it she was all in! There was no turning back. She squished it and let it ooze all over, and I loved watching her soak up the experience. She moved the cornmeal around to make a pond. And what is a pond without some turtles? Before long there were miniature toy ducks and turtles swimming in the cornmeal pond. She was amazed at how they would sink down into the mixture and disappear. The opportunity to discuss so much great vocabulary was wonderful.

Cornmeal Sensory Play

Wet vs. Dry Cornstarch

By now I thought the girls would be done playing, and I was planning to do another exploration on a different day. Instead Lovey said, “What’s next?” That’s when I remembered reading something about mixing cornstarch and water.  This post about  goop from Growing a Jeweled Rose provides a good recipe if you want to make some  goop beforehand. It includes a couple extra ingredients, and leads to wonderful sensory play.

For our purposes I wanted Lovey to control how much water was added and witness the transformation firsthand.  Again we started with a pan full of cornstarch and a container of water. She added water a little bit at a time and stirred. She was immediately surprised at how hard the cornstarch become at first. She kept adding water and then tried to dig into the mixture with her fingers. After working with the mixture for a bit, she was rewarded with this delightful substance!

Cornstarch Sensory Play

To say she loved this is an understatement! She played and played and played, and the next day she asked for “more of that wet white stuff!”

O is for Opposites: Wet & Dry Sensory Play

And all Tinker would say as we tried to clean up was, “More play mommy! More play!” I think the mess was definitely worth it!

O is for Opposites: Wet & Dry Sensory Play

How do you feel about messy play? What other substances would be fun to explore to compare wet and dry?

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  1. Love cornflour! Haven’t introduced my little ones to this yet!

  2. I love being able to tell my daughter, “Yes, you can play with it. Yes, you can get messy with it.” So often we have to say, no, leave it alone, don’t touch, so when we can change it up, they always seem surprised! I’m glad your daughter ended up liking the messy play!

  3. i did this today with my 2 year old. We put some cornmeal mix in a pan and added water as she was so moved and it was great…..lots of time and interest in the activity.

  4. We love messy play. this was a great post. I think we’ll be trying it this afternoon. Thanks!

  5. This looks like a lot of fun for my little girl. Pinning!

    • Shaunna says:

      Thanks so much for pinning. I hope your little girl enjoys exploring! Just stopped by to like your FB page and check out your blog…super cute!

  6. Such a cool activity!! I can’t wait to try this out with my 3 year old.

  7. What wonderful tactile fun!!

    Thanks for linking up to TGIF! I hope to see you again tomorrow!
    Beth =-)

  8. Great ideas! I have a hard time with messes, but I’m trying to get better with them. Maybe I’ll try this activity with my boys. Outside. At grandma’s house. 🙂

    • I completely understand! I usually back our messy play right up to bath time (or have an early bath time) so that the clean up is a bit easier. 🙂

  9. What a fun way to learn about opposites! I like that you used several different substances. I wonder what their reaction would have been if you tried salt or sugar and it dissolved in the water 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s funny that you mention dissolving. That was my daughter’s first prediction, because she remembered our recent marshmallow science experiments. It would have been neat to include salt or sugar…she would have loved the connection!

  10. I love using cornstarch. It is amazing how it is a solid feel and then it becomes liquid. So much fun. And I am going to pull out some oatmeal to use this week –that sounds like such a messy bunch of fun!

    • I agree. Seeing the change in the cornstarch was definitely the highlight for my oldest daughter. Have fun with the oatmeal. The transformation isn’t as exciting, but my youngest enjoyed the sensory experience anyway.

  11. Oh what fun! We love messy play:) Thanks for sharing on Share it Saturday!

  12. Kellee Martine says:

    How do I feel? I feel like I might take control and have so much fun that Lexie won’t get a chance to play. I guess I would need my own pan. Ummm so when can Lexie and I come play with goop?

    • You are too funny! There’s no reason you can’t join in and play, but do go ahead and get your own pan so she has the chance to make her own discoveries. And you can come play anytime! 😉

  13. I did opposites with my toddler too! http://lorenholland.blogspot.com/2013/01/ten-opposites-i-toddler-play.html

    I think Wet and Dry Opposites are the best!

  14. Looks like lots of good messy fun!

  15. Love your exploration of wet vs. dry! Visiting here from For the Kids Fridays!

    • Thanks so much! It was a very tactile way to explore opposites, and I think it helped my kids solidify the concept. They are recognizing all sorts of opposites in our environment now!

  16. MomMom Hill (PassionateParent.com) says:

    Stopping by to say hi after seeing your post on UpsideDownHomeschooling 🙂 Thanks for sharing your post. We are huge fans of sensory activities 🙂 Love this!

  17. What a great activity! I’m going to pin it for summer when we can take it outside. We do a lot of messy play around here too, and I love the idea of letting her explore different textures dry and then again after she’s added a little or a lot of water. Thanks for sharing!!

  18. I love how this is simple and yet was obviously a huge hit with the girls. I can’t think of a better way to learn about opposites.
    We do messy play around here (I figure that I’m going to have to clean up all the food crumbs and milk splatters anyway, so what’s a little more?!) but never specifically to compare wet vs. dry. I’m definitely going to do this.

    • I loved the simplicity, too. Honestly my oldest would do this again and again with most of the items in our pantry if I would let her. I completely know where you are coming from with the “so what’s a little more?” philosophy! It all gets cleaned up in the end. And if they are having fun and learning along the way, it’s even more worth it! We really enjoyed our opposites activities. There are so many more that we didn’t get to, so I am looking forward to revisiting some of the ideas again. I hope your little one has as much fun as we did.

  19. What a great way to learn about wet vs. dry! Pinning to use with my own little munchkins!

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