After making our stretchy night sky playdough, I had several packets of unflavored gelatin hanging around the kitchen, so I’ve been working out some different ways to use them. I’ve heard of injecting gelatin with color for art and sensory play, and decided to give that a try with the twins. I’m SO glad I did- this was pretty easy to set up and they played with it for almost two hours…that’s a really long time for my three-year-old dynamic duo!!
Sensory Art Play: Colorful Gelatin Castles
We had such an amazing time with these gelatin castles- we used pipettes to “inject” them with colored water which provided loads of entertainment (as well as fine motor practice) for the twins and I. The photo below really shows off the different colors down inside the castle- wondrous! I could totally see this as an activity at a Frozen-themed party…I know my kids were having fun pretending to make “Elsa’s castle!”
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
This activity was relatively easy to set up, although it does take some foresight. To make our gelatin castles, I used the following ingredients:
- Knox Gelatine (I’ve linked to it on Amazon HERE for your reference, but please try to find it at your grocery store- it’s way cheaper!)
- Cooking spray
- Molds (I used plastic sandcastle molds from our sandbox, but you could use pretty much anything)
To make your squishy castles, find your molds and measure how much liquid they will hold. Then coat the inside of your mold with cooking spray and set aside. To make gelatin molds, the ratio is one packet of Knox to 3/4 cup water. Each of my molds held about 1.5 cups, so I used 3 cups of water and 4 packets total. To prepare your gelatin, pour your liquid in a pan and sprinkle your gelatin on top. Heat your gelatin over medium-low heat and stir until all the powder is dissolved. Then pour into your molds and place in the fridge over night.
To pop my castles out of my molds, I just ran a butter knife around the tops and then dipped the mold in hot water for about 10 seconds, and they slid right out.
To set up, I placed the castles on our Ikea mirrored try and filled some plastic jars with water and a few drops of food coloring and our favorite plastic pipettes (find them HERE on Amazon). I would have used liquid watercolors, but I was out! This activity would be cool on top of a light table, too.
We figured out that the best way to inject our castles with color was to push the pipette down into the castle to make a little tunnel, pull it back out a few centimeters, and then squirt in our colors. Otherwise the liquid might squirt back out in your face 😉 Once there are lots of grooves and holes in the mold, it is mesmerizing to watch the colors squirt through all the different tunnels.
The kids also enjoyed mixing the colors on top of the mirror and making colored “moats” around the castles.
Eventually the castles met their demise in a most delightfully squishy manner.
In addition to the fact that this activity was engaging enough to keep the twins busy for an entire morning, it is also full of developmental goodness. Squishing the gelatin and using the pipettes to squirt the colors is great for fine motor practice. Figuring out how to keep the colors inside the towers was a good problem solving exercise to work those cognitive skills. This activity encourages color mixing, which is another cause and effect activity that stimulates cognitive skills. And the opportunities for language stimulation were abundant here, from simply commenting and describing the sensations during play to pretend play dialogue when the animals were added.
Need more ideas for those sand castle molds? Fun At Home With Kids used theirs to make painted salt sculptures…SOO cool!
You can see the rest of our sensory play activities HERE.