Family how-to: exploring colour with slime

Published 18 August 2017

Play, experiment and explore how colours mix together by making this sensory slime! This activity is suitable for children aged 2+ (with adult supervision).

  • Learning how colours interact with each other is an important part of any young artist’s toolkit. In the first of our bumper summer holiday family how-to series, join us to learn how primary colours mix together to make secondary colours by making slime!

    Check out our FAQs below for more information about this family how-to. The activity is also suitable for sensory beings.

    Extra inspiration!

    Our exhibition Matisse in the Studio is all about Henri Matisse’s collection of vases, chairs and other objects and the artworks that they inspired. When he painted and created “cut-outs”, Matisse used vivid, bright colours. Take a look at his paintings and “cut-outs”. In order to be a master of colour like Matisse, you need to learn how to mix colours. Learn how to make secondary colours with this fun family activity.

    • Family how-to: explore colour

      What you need

      • PVA glue

      • Bicarbonate soda

      • Contact lens solution, “buffered” (key ingredient: boric acid, can use eye wash instead)

      • Food colouring (red, blue and yellow)

      • Glitter (optional)

      • Baby oil (optional)

      • 3 mixing bowls

      • Spoons

      • Measuring cups and spoons

      • Muffin tray (for storing your slime blobs)

    • glue pour for family how-to exploring colour with slime

      1. Make your base

      Make sure you are working on a wipe-clean surface, and wearing messy clothes or an old apron!

      Measure out 250 ml (1 cup) PVA glue into a bowl.

      Add 1 tsp bicarb and mix together.

      Divide the base mix into 3 equal parts. Each one will be used for a different primary colour: yellow, blue and red.

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      2. Add food colouring

      Choose one of the primary colours and add a few drops of food colouring to the mixture, making sure the colour is nice and vibrant.

      Next, do the same for the other two mixtures.

    • Family how-to exploring colour glitter pour GIF

      3. Add glitter!

      Add some glitter to each of the three colours, matching the glitter to the colour of the slime.

      This will help later when you want to remember which colours you added together to get the secondary colour you end up with!

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      4. Add baby oil

      Add a little baby oil – it helps to keep the slime stretchy and stops it from sticking to your hands (optional).

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      5. Add contact lens solution

      Add contact lens solution by squirting in and mixing together.

      You’ll probably need a few tablespoons for each colour mixture.

      The mixture will come together and start to stick to itself instead of the bowl as you stir.

      Add a bit more solution until it makes a big lump in the bowl.

    • Mixing red - family how-to gif

      6. Stir the mixture

      Add bit by bit, stirring in the meantime, to make sure it doesn’t make your mixture too solid.

      Depending what brand you use, you may need a little more or less contact solution.

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      7. Test the consistency in your hands

      Add a few more drops of baby oil, take the slime out of the bowl and keep kneading it and playing with it.

      If it sticks to your hands, add a little more contact lens solution and knead into slime. It should stick together like very squidgy dough, and not stick to your hands.

      If you don’t want to directly touch the slime, try putting it into a clear plastic bag and handling it through the bag.

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      8. Break your slime up into pieces

      Break up each of your primary coloured slimes – blue, yellow and red – into three parts and use the muffin tray to keep them separate.

    • Family how-to: explore colour

      9. Mix your slime!

      Try mixing red and yellow, red and blue, or blue and yellow.

    • Family how to green glitter

      10. How did you make the secondary colour?

      Which two colours made the new colour you have?

      Pull the slime apart in your hands and have a close look at the glitter to remind yourself!

    • Family how-to explore colour slime 2

      11. Play with your slime!

      Once you have had a go at making all the different secondary colours, play with your slime!

  • FAQs

    What’s the science behind slime?

    PVA glue can be made into a slime by adding contact lens solution or eye wash that contains a small quantity of sodium borate (a form of boric acid). The borate ions create crosslinks between polymer chains, making a stretchy, malleable slime!

    Is it safe?

    It’s a good idea for anyone with sensitive skin to test whether they have a reaction to the slime. PVA is non toxic and washable and contact lens solution is safe to handle, but you may want to wear gloves or goggles. It comes off the skin very easily once it is created and properly bound together. But, if slime comes into contact with fabrics, it may stick and be difficult to get off.

    How long does slime last?

    You can keep your slime for as long as you like, it doesn’t wear out. As it is a non-biodegradable substance, you may wish to think carefully about how much you make and whether you will re-use it. You may also find the colours change soon after you make it, so do the colour mixing with fresh slime!

  • Share a photo of your adventures with slime with @royalacademy on Twitter or @royalacademyarts on Instagram using #familyhowto

    Photography by Simon Pask photography

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