Bouncy Balls for Snow Balls

Pink Bouncy Ball!

It’s 2 March and we just had our first snow day (no school) of the year which is pretty unheard of, this late in the season, in our part of the world.  I’ve been waiting for this day all winter!  The first snow day is unique because you haven’t been jaded by the wrath of snow and cold and you’re still happy to see some of the white, fluffy stuff and snuggle by a fire.  However, this usually happens in November. Not March.  But I’ll take it.

The first snow day (for us anyway!) is a day of celebration.  It means family fun, food, games and crafts.  So when we found a recipe  online for making polymer bouncy balls(here is original recipe from About .com) we all agreed it was a perfect snow day activity.

Although the balls were not super bouncy, nor were they clear like the original picture I saw on the recipe the project was a lot of fun and we had a great time experimenting.

Here are the basic ingredients:

The Ingredients

  •  borax (in the laundry section at a grocery store or superstore)
  • school glue (we used clear and Elmer’s Gel which is blue.  White is supposed to make them opaque, but ours were anyway so I’m not sure it makes a difference.)
  • Cornstarch
  • Disposable cups for mixing (I recommend clear small Solo cups, but any paper cup will do)
  • Food coloring
  • Warm water
  • Spoon or craft stick or mixing
  • Ruler (to measure the bounce!)
  • Zip tight sandwich bags to store the balls in when your done.

Here is my really ingenious tip for organizing ahead of time.  Get your ingredients out of their store bought container and put them into something that is easy for your kids to scoop from.  Probably a tip that most people would figure out ahead of time, but it took us one round until this one registered upstairs…

But I digress…

First, label your mixing cups – one with borax mixture and one with ball mixture.  Next combine 2 Tbsp. of water in you borax mixture cup.

Mixing the Borax Solution

Then add 1/2 tsp. of Borax powder.  Stir the until borax is dissolved as much as you can. (Ours never dissolved completely but it was ok).  Add some food coloring.  We did about 5 heavy drops.

Next grab your ball mixture cup and add 1 Tbsp of glue.  Then add 1/2 tsp. of the borax solution you just made.

Measuring the glue

Next, add 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch to your ball mixture.

Adding the Cornstarch

Do not mix.  Wait 10-15 seconds and watch the chemical reaction take place.  This is why I suggest using clear plastic cups over paper or colored plastic; you can see the reaction through the bottom of the cup.

Checking out the chemistry

After you’ve waited a few seconds you can stir the mixture until it becomes difficult or impossible to stir.

Take your mixture out of the cup and begin to knead with your hands.   This will be REALLY sticky at first but after a minute or so your creation will solidify and begin to form a firm consistency.

A Fantastic Sticky Mess!

Super Sticky in the cup

Form it into a ball and bounce away!

Observations:  Does the length of kneading it affect the bounce?  How high does it bounce?  Does it bounce in different directions and why?  Just a few observations we made.  Please feel free to post your own observations below!

Store in a zip close sandwich bag.  FYI – they flatten out when not used but you can easily remold for extended play.

Have fun!!

 

 

The Final Product!

 

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