How to Make Silly Putty (Without Laughing)

Want to learn how to make silly putty at home?  Our fun-filled silly putty recipe is super-simple, though you do have to find some Borax, and in all honesty, Silly Putty is such fun, you may even laugh!

Borax is a cleaning agent used in many detergents, cosmetics, and even tooth whitening pastes. It’s not dangerous in very small quantities, but this recipe should not be used with young children who may ingest it.

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Homemade Silly Putty Recipe

Mix together the following:

  • 2 cups Elmer’s glue
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Food coloring

In a separate bowl, mix together:

  • 3 tablespoons Borax — try the Twenty Mule Team brand
  • 1 cup water

Then combine the soap/water mixture with the glue/water mixture stirring very SLOWLY. (Do not pour it into the glue mixture…gently drizzle it in while stirring.)  Squeeze and knead the mixture together with your hands until it is solid.

Oops…you probably are laughing right now!

Tip:  Reduce the amount in half, and then use large clear plastic cups and tongue depressors for easy cleanup. Let each child make their own!

Note:  Use only with children old enough not to eat the putty, and store the unused Borax in a safe place.

Science Experiments for Young Kids with Silly Putty

  • Roll it in a ball.  Does it bounce?
  • Stretch it.  How thin can you make the putty?
  • Push it onto a newspaper comic strip.  Does the picture transfer to the putty?
  • Mold it into a plastic egg. Does the putty keep its shape, or change?

Silly putty has long-stretchy molecules which make it delightfully  bouncy, stretchy, moldable, hard, soft, and just oodles of fun!

Tips for encouraging cognitive skills and sensory learning with Silly Putty:

  • Help children find words to describe what they are seeing and feeling.
  • Encourage children to think about what if — What if we pull the putty? What do they think will happen?
    • Thinking about what if is the foundation of all scientific investigation
  • Encourage children to question how — How can we make the putty stretch further?
    • Thinking about problem-solving is a higher-level cognitive skill
  • Encourage children to get messy. New textural experiences help with tactical learning, such as fine motor development.

Fun Facts About Silly Putty

Silly Putty was originally invented as a possible alternative to rubber.  Yes, it does bounce, due to the elastic nature of the polymers (molecules).

Have you ever wondered what the commercial form of Silly Putty was made of?  The original recipe for orange-colored Silly Putty included 65% dimethylsiloxane (hydroxy-terminated polymers with boric acid), 17% silica (crystalline quartz), 9% Thixatrol ST (castor oil derivative), 4% polydimethylsiloxane, 1% decamethyl cyclopentasiloxane, 1% glycerine, and 1% titanium dioxide. — YUCK!

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