When I recently posted pictures of the fun we had been having with paint and cotton balls on my Facebook page I was surprised at how many people asked me why we were baking them and what we were going to do with them. In actual fact I didn't really have a specific ‘end' activity in mind..it was more about the process and the fun that could be had in the moment.
But considering so many have asked me what we did with the cotton balls I thought it was only fair that I share. Although really it was just about getting messy and having fun!
I've seen the idea of baked cotton balls around on the net for awhile and they were on my list of things to do…so finally I just did it. And I'm so glad I did because my group of girls had so much fun with it!
So what do you need? I'm glad you asked….
I have lots of egg cartons at the moment thrown out from His Patient Self's work so I decided to hand them out and encourage the girls to place their balls into the trays before I transferred them to oven trays to bake…this allowed them to experiment and make mess without me worrying about how much batter was on the oven trays!
Let's take a look at the recipe…
Baked Cotton Balls
2 Cups flour
1.5 Cups water
Food colouring or edicol dyes
Mix flour and water to a smooth but thick batter,try to get rid of any lumps if you can, separate into bowls and then stir through colouring…and let the fun begin! If your batter is a little too runny just add more flour.
The texture of the batter surprised them as it was a different feel to normal paint but once they had tried it there was no turning back, they became a little assembly line of dunking and arranging!
It really is a simple process, just dunk the cotton balls into the goopy batter and then place into the egg cartons…but oh the joy!
Tara requested more batter and the colour black this time…why hadn't I included black the first time around? I really need to include this colour more often.
Who would have thought that dipping cotton balls into a coloured batter could become so very important…it was truly glorious to watch the concentration and pride as they worked.
So many opportunities to explore with the senses, the batter has a distinct feel when squished between the fingers…Ruby made sure to enjoy every moment of that feeling!
This activity was a real workout for the hands and those fine motor skills. And there were so many opportunities to talk about colour and what we might do with the balls once baked and hard.
And then finally we were done. They actually would have gone all day I think but I'd already made 2 batches of coloured batter and I was certainly done!
Now it was time to place them on lined trays and bake in a moderate oven for around 40 minutes. If you spread them out across a few trays they will bake faster. It really does depend on your oven so perhaps just keep an eye on them. When they have formed a hard shell they are ready.
So what did we do with them? Well I actually didn't have a plan in mind…sorry to spoil the illusion but it really was more about the process for me! But my girls asked to ‘do their name' so I decided that we could do a spot of collage with them. They had gone quite hard so they made a wonderful collage material!
If you decide to do some collage with the cotton balls I do suggest adding a little wood glue to your paste mixture as the balls are quite heavy when cooked.
They look so colourful displayed on the girls bedroom doors!
And don't you love Tara's big and small T?
We then decided to have some fun with our favourite tool – the hammer! The girls hammered the balls until they flattened and cracked revealing the surprise within!
It took a bit of work, the younger toddlers enjoyed just having a go with the toy hammers but the older children were determined to break through the hard shell and see what was inside.
The balls are still fluffy and soft on the inside..how cool is that? They were very excited by this discovery and couldn't wait to add more to their ‘smashed balls' collection (as named by Ruby!). I wonder what they will be used for when next on the collage table?
Have to say the cotton balls were an absolute hit….now who said they were going to help clean up….anyone?
There are so many ways to use your baked cotton balls, so far we have also used them for some counting and colour games as well as a little cotton ball peg painting!
What would you do with a few baked cotton balls at your place?
A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.