Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homemade Glow-in-the-Dark Play Dough With a UV Boost

On a whim this week, I pulled out our play dough (the homemade, cooked, with cream of tarter, kind), and mixed some Rust-Oleum glow-in-the-dark, latex paint into it.

The paint mixed in just fine, and thanks to a plastic baggie, wasn't even that messy to do. Once it was completely mixed in, the paint was "absorbed" by the play dough, and no longer came off on our hands.

Unfortunately, it really didn't glow in the dark very well, either. I think the amount of paint needed to get a good glow, would make the play dough too sticky for play. Even then, the light only hits the top, outer layer, of the dough, so while it glows lightly, as soon as you squish, or reform it, the "dark matter" from the inside surfaces, and blocks out the glow.

Still, glow-in-the-dark play dough sounded like too much fun to give up on. That's when the Man of the House came to the rescue with his Streamlight, UV LED flashlight, pulled from his hunting supplies. You can find inexpensive (in the 5-10 dollar range) handheld UV lights at the big box stores, or online.

It's the kind of light that makes quinine, or tonic water glow green.

It also super boosts glow-in-the dark paint, so that when we bathed our play dough in the light...

...we got the "oooh - aaaah", really cool reaction we were looking for.

In fact, the ultraviolet light not only boosted the glow power of the paint, it totally energized the children's interest in their play dough.

They went right to work, creating all kinds of freaky little aliens, to bath in the UV light, and then plunge into the darkness.

And, just in case you're curious, I did try mixing up a new batch of play dough, using tonic water instead of tap water. Sadly, it (along with a few other experimental drinks, and desserts) didn't glow at all under the light, but more on that later.

In the meantime, we didn't have any adverse skin reactions to playing with the paint laden play dough, but you might want to proceed cautiously. The same can probably be said for playing with a UV LED light source. And, if you have a child with latex allergies, I'd probably skip this one, all together. Otherwise, jump right in, it's a lot of fun.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

I have heard that Jello-jigglers made with quinine glow, but ours didn't very much. I have not heard of a UV flashlight. I am going to have to look for one of those. My boys would love it.

Christy Killoran said...

Well, it's cool that you got the dough to glow. I like the little aliens.

Ticia said...

How incredibly cool! I really need to sit down and make some play dough.....

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Maybe I should give my husband a UV flashlight as a birthday present and then use it for my own purposes. Here comes an evil plan :)

Anonymous said...

As a mom to a kid with severe latex allergies, I always appreciate the warning.. but just so you know, Latex paint does not actually have latex in it.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Anonymous - Thanks! That's good to know.