Teaching Using Slime
By Janice VanCleave
Slime is easy for kids to make and ever so fun for kids to to play with. This ooey, gooey, slippery, and slimy stuff provides a perfect opportunity to guide kids to discover new things by applying what they already know.
Telling kids in advance what is going to happen and why it happens is like revealing the plot of a murder mystery. Instead, I suggested that you GUIDE kids so that they learn by discovery. With inquiry questions from you, kids can be encouraged to apply previous knowledge to this new experience.
Even very young learners can make contributions to describing the slime. Just prod them a little with a question they understand.
Do you think the slime looks like something Aunt Rosie might cook?
This kind of question starts the kids to thinking, but it doesn’t put a damper on the fun they are having. It can also encourage kids to make comparisons between the slime and stuff that it looks like.
Yes, if you start with a goofy, crazy question, you encourage kids to give goofy, crazy answers. Would any of your kids say the slime looks like “snot?” Of course they will, and no doubt others will want to top the “snot” answer.
When answers start getting off target, or when you are ready to focus on something else, zero in on one of the answers, such as snot. Point out a specific characteristics that links slime and snot. For example:
Say, “You are right, slime does remind me of snot. They are both very drippy.”
Do: Hold a piece of slime up to your nose and let it stretch.
Say,“I don’t think drippy is the best word to describe snot or slime. Before dad fixed it, the bathroom faucet dripped one drop of water at a time. What would be a better describing word?
Say, “HEY! Did you hear what I just said? I ask for adescribing word. We studied that yesterday. What was that special name for describing words?
Do: Give clues if kids don’t remember. This is also the type of clues you can give to help kids with science answers.
Clues: It starts with the letter “a.” It reminded us a little of doing math.
Say, “Yea! You remembered. Adjectives.” So, what would be a better adjective for snot and slime than drippy?
When I present to large groups of kids, I make a rule that each child may give one original answer. This means answers may not be repeated unless new information is added (except for very young kids). This allows more kids to participate and encourages to think up new answers.
Even goofy answers can be used to focus kids on the characteristics of the slime. Yes, even if “poop” are something as gross is the answer. To stop any further listing of poop related answers, you might identify the color of the slime that was made and state that you’ve never seen poop that color. Then, quickly ask a question that switches to another characteristic about the slime, such as:
How does the slime feel? Is it cold? Hot? Smooth? Rough? Hard? Soft? Etc….. These are “starter” ideas to encourage kids to give their own descriptions.
Help each child to successfully give a description. If a child gives a wrong description, be as positive as possible. You might say, “That’s interesting, but let’s take a closer look at the slime….” It is ever so important for kids to feel “safe.” Safe to give answers without reprisal if they are wrong. Safe from being laughed at. Yes, I know this is easier said than done, but so important.
Clues for Kid Control:
Safety is an important part of all science investigations. Discipline is at the top of my safety list. When I work with a multiage group of elementary kids, I have them to put on an imaginary science hat. With this hat on, everyone will be expected to act like a scientist. But, even scientists get excited and sharing results can be noisy. To get their attention, I say in a very loud voice:
“STOP!” When they hear this, they are to FREEZE!
“LOOK AT ME!” They position themselves so they can look at me.
“LISTEN!” I should have their attention and can give instructions.
What you want your kids to find out about slime depends on their age as well as their abilities. I have prepared material about slime, including how to make SLIME using different materials, as well as making slime fluorescent.
Recipes for different types of slime, research information about the chemistry of slime, and step-by-step directions for designing and developing a Slime Science Fair Project can be found here >>>>> SLIME INDEX