Bartholomew and the Oobleck is an enthralling story to read with children! It follows a king who wants something new to come from the sky, so he orders his magicians to make “oobleck”. As with many alterations of Mother Nature (Michael Jackson comes to mind) this, of course, turns out to be a disaster! It is only remedied when his page, Bartholomew, convinces him he needs to say the words, “I’m sorry.”
In addition to being a great literacy experience (as almost any Dr. Seuss production is) this story is also great for integrating with a weather theme, a Dr. Seuss author study, or for talking about the social skill of apologizing. This is a little on the longer side, so for younger audiences, be familiar enough to summarize the story if you need to speed it along. Follow up this story with a batch of your own oobleck!
You don’t have to be a magician to make oobleck! Either ahead of time or with your children, mix 1 ½ parts cornstarch to 1 part water (colored green, of course, to replicate the oobleck). Give each of the children a small bit to work with on a tray. Discuss the way the oobleck feels and the way it responds as they play with it.
This type of oobleck is what is technically called a “Non-Newtonian fluid”, meaning that its viscosity changes in response to force, causing it to act much like a solid at times. You’ll notice that when the oobleck is left still, it runs like a liquid. When it is touched with force, however, it responds as a solid. Encourage your children to try different ways of manipulating the oobleck to demonstrate this unique trait. Here are some suggestions: hold it in an open hand, roll it into a ball and then leave the ball on a tray, tap it with your fingers or open hand, try to cut or tear it. A great sensory/science activity!
*Be sure to dispose of this in the garbage, and not in the sink. If you need to clean the oobleck off of something, it is most easily done when it has dried. If you clean off as much as you can when it is wet, the remainder will dry and leave a powdery residue which can easily be brushed off or vacuumed.