This originally ran as a guest post for Learn Play Imagine in May 2013.

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S loves her dinos, so of course they are active players in many of our small worlds.  I knew I wanted to build a world around some "sticky mud".  These dinosaur skeletons are a favorite of mine because they have names on the bottom (there's no way I'd remember which dino is which otherwise!).

I knew it would be a bit messy, but I wanted to keep to the easy and simple set-ups we have for our small world series - so I created dried leaves with S (she got to practice her scissor skills) by cutting up two paper grocery bags.

I also placed a sheet on top of our splat mat to contain any spills (you can read more on ways to manage messy play here).

S LOVED the sensory element.  

Look at those long oozy gooey drips!  Fantastic!

S inspecting the muckiness of a dino.

And as is usually the case, our play ended like this: with the addition of some other dinosaurs, an unlucky fish, and the hands and feet of a cute little girl.  :)

To make your own sticky mud you'll need:
Food coloring/Liquid Watercolors

Add food coloring to a small amount of water and slowly add the colored water to cornstarch while stirring.  The mixture should be thick, but run in ribbons when you lift it in your hand (or lift it with a spoon).  If it doesn't pour at all, add more water; if it pours too freely, add more cornstarch.

You can read about our other Simple Small Worlds here:

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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children.  As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family.  I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision.  Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies).  Observe caution and safety at all times.  The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.


  1. Reminds me of the the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, CA - this would be a great activity in anticipation of (or after) visiting the museum. Great idea!

    1. Totally! It would be a great tie-in - love that idea!!!!

  2. Hello! I can't wait to do the sticky mud but had a question... How much.cornstarch to water do you use? (I attempted to purchase your book on amazon but it's currently not available). Thank you! Jenny :)

    1. It'll be back in stock in the next day or two - they just finished printing the next round of copies (we sold out!). The ratio is about 2 cups cornstarch to 1 cup water. Hope that helps and hope you still order the book! :) :) :)

    2. Thank you for the quick reply! (and yes!! I plan to purchase the book. Thanks for the update)

    3. No problem! And yay! Enjoy your dinos and sticky mud! :) :) :)


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