My little Mr M is currently obsessed with trucks - well, actually, anything with wheels that he can push around and say vroom and beep beep while doing so. His latest thing is trying to push two at the same time and saying, in baby babble, "On your mark" then taking off in a race.
He received Little Blue Truck (affiliate link to buy the book) by Alice Schertle (illustrations by Jill McElmurray) for Christmas and after just a couple readings it became his all-time favourite book. With the sweet illustrations and great storyline full of animals and trucks it's a fun book for us all to read and has a wonderful message about being kind to everyone. He delights in the animal sounds and the different voices we use for the cute Little Blue Truck's beep vs. the Dump Truck's big gruff voice. We read it before nap, before bed, and any other time he spots it.
I'd been meaning to make goop for the children to play with and hadn't gotten around to it in a long time (and not since Mr. M has been old enough to enjoy it). I thought this would be a perfect time to create some mud goop to reflect the story's climax when they get stuck in the mud.
Goop is a really cool concoction of cornstarch and water that seems to defy the laws of physics. It looks like liquid but you can pick it up and make it into a ball, which then turns back to liquid. It's also known as Oobleck as a nod to Dr. Seuss's book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.
While the children napped I took five minutes to prepare this activity. I grabbed a plastic bin from our toy storage unit, cornstarch, water, cocoa, and all the plastic farm animals and trucks I could find in the house. We didn't have any little blue trucks but there was a red and a yellow one so they stood in for the star of the story.
If you haven't made goop before you'll be astonished at how easy and magical it is. Simply put two parts cornstarch to one part water and you've got it. I put about a cup of cornstarch in the bin then slowly added two cups water, mixing as I went. It starts to stick and gets lumpy at this point but keep mixing until all the cornstarch is blended in and it looks like a liquid.
To make the goop look like mud I sprinkled some cocoa powder in - about a tablespoon, but you can do more or less depending on how dark you want the mud to be.
Once it was all mixed it I added the animals and trucks (okay, fine, I played with it for a bit because WHO can resist goop?!). I saved the activity until the end of the day and brought it out as a surprise for a little pre-bath fun. We reread the story first and then I showed them the bin. I put it in the empty tub with them and they eagerly climbed in and started exploring. Both were a little hesitant at first (neither likes to get messy) but it only took few minutes before they were full on engaged. I let them self-direct the activity for awhile. You can see Mr M's chubby fingers drawing lines on the dump truck and then watching as it filled back in each time. Miss M liked zooming the cars around and making the animals talk to each other.
After some time doing this I suggested that the dump truck looked stuck in the mud and asked them how we might be able to get him out. Miss M lined up the truck and animals and had them push the dump, just like in the book, until he was free. Mr. M got in on the action too and you can see him pushing them along here.
When the time was up I filled up the tub with water, took out the bin of mud goop and left them the trucks and animals. They happily washed them all until they were sparkling clean while they had their bath. Clean up of the goop is easy - I just scraped it into the compost bin and then washed the bin out with dish soap and water - no scrubbing required!