Friday, February 24, 2012

Smashing Balls (baked cotton balls)

I saw these awhile ago on Kiboomu and then was reminded of them again while I was poking around at Play Create Explore (seriously, such a great place to spend some time!).  They are BAKED cotton balls! So fun.  All you need is some flour, water, food coloring and cotton balls! Place them on a greased cookie sheet or aluminum foil, bake for about 45 minutes at 300 degree's. Yep, that's it.  Maybe a hammer too. 

Pretty, huh? 

mix 1 cup water, 1 cup flour

add some color (we used food coloring)

toss in the cotton balls and cover with mixture

place on cookie sheet (I covered it with aluminum foil because I didn't feel like chipping the mixture off).

Hand 'em on over to the kids!  Enjoy the action!

Update:  Apparently some people who tried this felt that the bottoms were flat and a little sharp.  Mine also had some edges on the bottom but I simply cut those edges off with scissors.  I would LOVE to hear what you did with them if you tried making them!

I also get many questions about what exactly to do with these.  For me, I think they are amazing.  You can use them the way we did, which helps improve hand/eye coordination, a great sensory and science experience and a nice lesson in cause and effect. Many people have asked me "What is the Point?" My answer is, why ask? Just try it.  There doesn't always need to be a "point" or end result for a kid to explore, create and just play. Part of playing is cleaning up, so I don't have any issues with the kids helping me clean the mess they created.  I also like to use trays when we have experiences like this, as it helps define the space they are using and contain the contents. 
Here are some other folks that have made Smash Balls and how they use them.  Feel free to leave a comment letting us all know how you used them.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Tot Treasures used them to make Dino Balls.
Wonderbaby used them as a sensory experience here
Loving My Nest made them here,
Lil Mop Top used them to practice their sight words here
and
Artsy Mama Creative Kids made them here.


 
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43 comments:

mariah said...

how long did you bake them? at what temp? thanks!

Time For Play said...

Bake at 300 for about 45 minutes

Happyscrapper42 said...

The flat edges were not an issue for us, it never even crossed my mind. We had such fun with these. I made them back in early Feb. after seeing them on Pinterest from Play, Create... Here is what we did, http://1mommysjourney.weebly.com/1/post/2012/02/baked-cotton-balls.html

Anonymous said...

I am a daycare teacher and I am with the pre-preschoolers (All kids are now 3) and they LOVED it!! They loved getting their hands sticky and then I put out plastic tools for them to use on them and they had focused attention on the project for at least 30 min.!! Thank you for the idea!!

Harts52 said...

I can't wait to try this with my grandsons. I'm wondering if they could be strung like cranberries and popcorn and used as garland - different colors for different occasions?

Anonymous said...

Edges and bottoms seemed fine. Maybe my mixture was not thick enough but outer shell did not crack when we tried to smash them. They also did not break open very easily. But my daughter had a good time making them! If I make them again, I will make mixture thicker and maybe bake a little longer.

Peace of Life said...

Thank you. I loved the picture with the nutty hands. I miss that age.

Anonymous said...

But what do you do with them??? Do the kids just rip them apart and make a mess? They sure are pretty - but that seems boring.

Anonymous said...

What do you do with these?

Anonymous said...

um....anyone who's asking what to do with these...or what's the point - have you BEEN around a boy lately? Let's do a simple math equation here to demonstrate my point...
Object to Smash + Permission to Smash = VERY Happy Boy!

Anonymous said...

I work with 3 year olds and they will love this!!!

Anonymous said...

What if you put them in the silicone mini muffin pans rather than the cookie sheet so it's more rounded on the bottom = no sharp bottom edges

Anonymous said...

My four year old boy LOVED these! We used cupcake papers for all the different colors so I didn't have to wash all the bowls! I also had him use tweezers ti take them out-helps with fine motor skills and coordination. Thanks do much for the great idea!!

Anonymous said...

I have not yet tried these, as I am just seeing this for the first time. However, I am a mental health therapist who often works with children. I believe it will be a great way to allow them to safely release some aggression and frustration.

Kristina Miles said...

i have some hyper little 3rd cousins and as awsome as this is i had to come up with a fun not fighting method for these brothers. hammers and too much excitment gets them into trouble. so i decided to place these on a home made twister board and play the hand feet smash to win game.

Time For Play said...

Kristina, I love that they used their feet! Great way to use the Smash Balls! I love hearing how others used them. Thanks for sharing and visiting!

Anonymous said...

We use these to help our kids learn their spelling words...once they can spell each word three times correctly, they get to smash the colored ball! The kids love it!

Valarie Sanders said...

Hello, great post! I featured this post (with a link back to you!) in my blog along with a couple other ideas on how to really keep kids busy if you want to go look at them. I love your ideas, keep them coming! http://mommyinapinch.blogspot.com/2013/01/keeping-kids-busy.html

Angie said...

For 5th grade we predicted what the flour would do to the cotton ball. The prediction was that they would be smooth which was incorrect. We did the whole scientific process, and had fun doing it.

Anonymous said...

with all due respect, who in their right mind would entrust a young child with a hammer? Seriously?

Time For Play said...

Well, apparently, many people do. They sell them in all toy stores with the other plastic tools. I believe our tool set came from Toys R Us.

Time For Play said...

Thanks Valerie!

Sarah Northen said...

Why would you even ASK what to do with them? Colors, sorting, counting, following directions to make them, SMASHING things with a hammer?! If you work with kids, use your imagination.

Sarah Northen said...

Why wouldn't you give them a hammer? they will be supervised. Lighten up.

Time For Play said...

Thank you, Sarah! I love all your ideas on how to use them! Thanks for commenting. :)

Emily D. Hawkins said...

Will these stay a nice consistency for children to play with if they are baked in advance? I am thinking of using them in a toddler classroom where there will be no usable oven. Thanks in advance!

Time For Play said...

Hi Emily. They will last until they get smashed or broken apart. Have fun!

Hanna & Qistina said...

Hi there... I really love to bake it with my 6 yrs old doter... She'll love it... Hopefully we could do this this weekend... Thank you for sharing...

acmiller said...

If heavy metal hammers are a worry in little hands, try wooden mallets (in Maryland they are common for cracking open crabs). They are much lighter but still plenty destructive for something like this. My 3 year old son calls his a "Bammer" rather than a hammer :)

Sunny Herron said...

I just did these with my 4-year-old son. He is, um, er, very lively. He doesn't always follow instructions and rather pretend to "sword" fight the dog than do quiet playtime activities. He is the third of 4 kids so needless to say I don't have a ton of time to plan craft and such for him. When I saw this it was perfect because we have all this stuff on hand. So I thought why not. He LOVED it! He helped make them and I stuck them in the oven right before making lunch. They were done and cooled by the time he was done eating so I sat them, still on the jelly roll pan, on the floor in the kitchen and let him smash them while I ate and fed my 11-month-old. He kept saying "this is awesome" and "this is so cool"! We counted them all before he smashed them and then he counted each one again as he smashed them. Thank you!!!

jaysen briscoe said...

I have a 4 year old with sensory issues. I run a home daycare and we did this activity with him and the other kids to review primary colors and what colors 2 colors mixed together make. While the other children really enjoyed it, he LOVED getting dirty in the batter, and he liked to "pop" the finish product and hear the crunch and feel the cotton ball give. This was a GREAT activity that was fun, took little planning, and used everyday household materials. Cleanup was a cinch, too! Thanks so much!!!!!

Cindy Wolkens said...

What a great idea! I work with emotionaly impaired boys that would love this! Their so into science projects too. Thanks for the idea

Cindy Wolkens said...

What a great idea! I work with emotionaly impaired boys that would love this! Their so into science projects too. Thanks for the idea

Cindy Wolkens said...

What a great idea! I work with emotionaly impaired boys that would love this! Their so into science projects too. Thanks for the idea

The Mean Mama said...

We are going to make these at my toddler's superhero bday party so they can HULK SMASH them!!

Laura said...

We made these today and there were mushy. They didn't crack at all. Kind of a bummer. What did I do wrong?

Time For Play said...

Hi Laura! I'm sorry they came out mushy. I get bummed out when I see something fun and it doesn't work too. Boo! The only thing I can think of is maybe they needed more time in the oven? Sometimes oven temps vary, so it's possible that they just needed to cook a few minutes more? I'm sorry they didn't come out for you. I hope you try again!

Veronica Beaverhousen said...

I loved your comment "why ask why?" There DOESN'T always have to be a reason WHY in order for kids to explore and just have fun doing it! Kuddos to you!

Time For Play said...

Thank you, Veronica! You totally made my day!

wzook said...

Hi there!

I did this today with my 3 and 4 year old and we used wheat flour (all we had in the pantry) at one hour they were squishy! it took almost two to really get a good hard outer coating for smashing!

Made From Pinterest said...

We loved this idea so much that we made your Smashing Balls and presented them in our class "Family Memories through Cooking and Crafting with your Kids" at the Pinners Conference and Expo in Sandy, Utah this past October. Everyone LOVED them! Thanks for the great idea! I'm posting about them on our site tomorrow. Have a great holiday!

Tracy
MadefromPinterest.net

Time For Play said...

Hi Tracy! That is awesome! I'm super close to Sandy, Utah! That would have been amazing to go to. Next year for sure! Thanks for sharing!

nebraskafarmgirl said...

I have been looking for activities for our kiddo that has sensory issues and he loved this! I loved it! The point of it for us was finding something to give our kiddo something to touch that has different textures, it allows him to burn off extra energy by swinging a hammer or stomping them with his foot. It is so simple and easy to do.