I actually did this activity round at somebody else’s house! I don’t normally do that, but YC really wanted to do it with one of her friends. It just so happened that we had a play date set up, so I got in touch with their nanny and asked if we could do it with them at their house. Of course she was fine with that, so after swimming we went round to their house and made our floam.
So what is floam I hear you say? That is a good question. It is mouldable foam. You can buy floam (or playfoam) in toy stores, but it is far more fun, and cheaper, to make it yourself.
To make floam you will need:
- 1 1/3 cups of Polystyrene balls – micro ones work best, but otherwise beanbag filling is perfect.
- ½ and ¼ cups of tepid water.
- 1-3 tsps of borax*
- Food colouring
- ¼ cup of pva glue
- Zip lock bag
* Borax is laundry detergent; it can be an irritant if inhaled. Therefore adult supervision is a must. To buy some go to: http://www.intralabs.co.uk/borax/100g-borax.html
In a bowl mix together the ½ cup of water with the 1-3 tsps of borax. The more borax you add, the stiffer the floam will be. Then put the bowl aside.
In another bowl mix together the ¼ cup of water with the ¼ cup of glue.
Add a few drops of food colouring to the glue mix and stir in. Only add a few drops, otherwise it may stain their hands and surfaces when they play with it.
Put the glue mix into a zip lock bag.
Add the polystyrene balls; mix the contents together by squishing the bag.
Add a tbsp of the borax solution to the bag at a time. Remember if you add less borax solution you will be left with a more runny slim, more borax solution will result with something that is more malleable.
Kneed the contents of the bag together, and then let it sit for a while.
To store the floam keep it in an airtight container, apparently keeping it in the fridge makes it last longer.
I did this with 4 children aged between 18 months and 5 years, and each of them really enjoyed making it. I didn’t get to see the other 2 children play with the floam as we ate dinner as soon as we had finished (obviously after washing hands), and then we left. I did promise my 2 little ones that if we left the floam behind, I would make them some more. So I did. I made 3 different ones, and varied the amount of borax I put into each one, to see how they would turn out. I also tried adding the balls to the bag first and then adding a few drops of colouring to see if that would dye them a different colour. It did work, but the moment I put the other ingredients in the colour washed off the balls, and they went back to being white.
When we actually started playing it with the floam, all the polystyrene balls started to come out! It wasn’t a problem, and in fact we embraced the fact they were coming out and tried to de-floam our floam! It became part of our game – the balls were actually monsters that tried to eat the Flubber (that is basically what you get when you take all the balls out). If you don’t want this to happen, then I would highly recommend getting micro polystyrene balls, like the ones found in neck pillows that you use on planes. Either way, my two had a blast making it, playing with it and destroying it. They even helped tidy up all those balls.