Jell-O Excavation

We had fun excavating Jello today…

I placed little toy animals in a bundt pan full of Jello, and then refrigerated it overnight. This afternoon, it was open for investigation.

Hmmmm, feels kind of funny.

“How can I get the animals out?”

“With a knife!” A butter knife, of course.

Because the allure of plain ol’ Jello would only go so far, we added the bottles of colored water for fun.

Pouring water all over the excavation site.

Little fox, trapped in colorful Jello.

Scooping and mixing the slimy concoction. Despite my art school background, I had no idea that lime green and magenta watercolors would mix together to make blood red (!!), and I’ll spare you from some of the more gory-looking snaps. After I guffawed at the mess, my daughter asked me what “gross” means. This was clearly a rich vocabulary lesson as well.

After freeing the animals, filling the water bottles with Jello was a whole other adventure.

Thanks to Time for Play for the inspiration!

How we did it

I used one box of Knox Gelatine (there are four bags in one box), and followed the directions on the back of the box. I poured a cup of cold water directly into the mold, sprinkled all four bags over the water and let it rest for one minute. Next, I added three cups of hot water and stirred it up. Then the animals were added. I placed it in the fridge to set, which takes three hours. To free it from the mold, I ran hot water over the back of the bundt pan for half a minute and the whole thing slid out. You could also spray the mold with cooking spray.

Have you played with Jello? Share a story or add your photo into the comments!

This was shared on We Play: Childhood 101, World Animal Day Blog Hop

Comments

  1. Rachael Carpenter says

    We just made Jello gumdrops! Use a dropper to add drops of water to a bowl of dry jello mix – add then one at a time, waiting in between to let all of the water absorb fully! lift them with a fork and eat – don’t worry, they won’t want to eat more than a few, for a max total of around 1 T of jello consumed.

  2. says

    I love this! We used to do something very similar when I was teaching and I have been meaning to do this with my 2 year old. I cannot find the small toy bugs anywhere but may have a go with something else if all else fails!
    I am linking this to my Friday Favourites this week.

  3. says

    Jello is soooo much fun. I made a JUMBO tub of it for my 22 month old boy not too long ago. It only needed one container of gelatine and a few hours in the fridge to make 15L of ‘gelly’. It was soooo much fun. He played in it for so long. I hid little things in the ‘gelly’ too which he enjoyed finding but mostly he enjoyed running his fingers, hands, arms (and then finally got in the tub!) through the ‘gelly’. I added more water than the container said so it wouldn’t set completely hard. It was definitely one of the best sensory tubs I have made for him and so simple.

    • rachelle says

      Did you say 15L?? That’s an enormous amount of jello! I’ll have to try that next time, as our batch was really firm. Thanks for the good tip!!

  4. Diana says

    SO much fun! Adam enjoyed the excavation part and “rescuing” his cars from the jello. But he really loved just playing with the jello, cutting it and squeezing it. (I enjoyed it too!) Thanks!

    • rachelle says

      Diana! Thank you for sharing this great photo. Adam looks so happy!! And knowing about his love for cars, I must say that that’s an inspired addition to the activity.

  5. Susan s. says

    Thanks, rachelle! Looks like so much fun! At any time, did your DD try to eat the jello and would you have let her? I always have trouble figuring out where to draw the line in the exploration of a new thing. Thanks!

    • rachelle says

      Haha! DD did not try to eat the Jello, but since it was plain gelatin it would have tasted pretty icky, probably stopping her from further eating. I’m pretty fearless when it comes to exploring new materials. I try to look to DD’s abilities and interests to gauge what’s appropriate for her. Of course, we sometimes have dark moments: When we made bubble prints by blowing into a bowl of paint with a straw, I stated that we absolutely could NOT suck in through the straw. I guess that the instinct to suck is so strong and instinctual that she sucked up paint anyway. Sigh. However, it was non-toxic, so again, it was a harmless lesson to learn. My pov with new things is to look to them as experiments — we’re trying it together for the first time and we’ll see what happens. This way, we’re co-learners without a specific outcome in mind, and the experience is a little bit of an adventure for both of us. I also believe that trusting her with free exploration (within reason, of course) leads to building confidence and developing creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Thanks for the great question — so much to think about!!

      • Susan S. says

        Thanks so much, Rachelle, for the thoughtful answer. That really helps and I’ll try to be more fearless (mess-tolerant) in our exploratory activities. Thanks for all your inspiration!

  6. says

    How fantastic is this?! I just came over from The Artful Parent and I love what you have going on over here. I can’t wait to try this with my three year old daughter.

  7. says

    Love this idea!! What a wonderful sensory experience — the addition of the colored water is awesome. We do this with frozen water but I don’t know why I never thought of jello. Wonder if I should float my older daughter’s plastic frog dissection model organs in some jello?? Could be awesome OR… completely gross! ; )

    • rachelle says

      I was wondering the same thing, MaryLea, when I saw this idea on Time For Play. The frog parts could be completely gross, which is how ours looked when the jello turned blood red, but how fun would that be! I look forward to seeing your take on this!

    • rachelle says

      Thanks, Melissa :) You do, too. The toilet paper roll sculpture that posted to our Creative Experiment page inspired me to keep saving our rolls. My daughter will love that.

  8. Chelsea says

    We use jello in my preschool classroom we put the geletin in a bowl, and have it set over night. The next day we set it out with the medicine droppers and colored water….the children suck up the colored water with the dropper and then inject the color into the geletin. It looks so AWESOME…and the best part is use can reuse the geletin the next day by melting it back over the stove and resetting it in the fridge.

    • rachelle says

      I’m so glad you mentioned that I could reuse the Jello – this never occurred to me and it was remiss to toss it out. And next time we try this, we’ll try injecting the water. What a good idea!

  9. Lindsay says

    How ironic that you are letting your child play with plastic animals inside of a wreath of real animal parts. Gelatin is the collagen of animals derived from their skin and bones. If you told that to your daughter, would she still want to play in it? How disgusting.

    • rachelle says

      Hi Lindsay: I was a strict vegetarian for ten years, and appreciate your perspective. I did a little search on non-animal gelatin, and there are options! I haven’t tried any of these and can’t say if they’ll set up like gelatin does, but for the sake of such an experiment, one could try Lieber’s unflavored gel, Carmel’s unsweetened gel, Hain Superfruits, or KoJel’s unflavored gel. Thanks for bringing this to my attention; we’ll have to try one of these vegan varieties next time around. Cheers.

  10. starla petersen says

    I cannot wait to try this out with my twins! I was wondering, where did you get the squirt bottles for the colored water? 

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