The majority of my test pins have a common theme: how to make therapy products that don’t cost a ridiculous amount.
In my latest quest I set out to find a recipe for DIY therapy putty. I use this stuff all the time- hiding objects inside, pushing pegs into it, cutting it with scissors – It’s a great (and always entertaining) way to develop hand strength for kids. My only issue is that it costs more than it probably should, so I figured a homemade recipe would be worth a try.
While searching on Pinterest, I found a link to this website with the recipe I was looking for: DIY Studio: Homemade Therapy Putty
It looked easy enough, just liquid starch and school glue in a 1:1 ratio, and then food color for added pizzazz. I ended up using about 8 oz. (2 small bottles) of glue and 8 oz. of liquid starch. A batch was under $3 total, with plenty of liquid starch left.
First I added the liquid starch and glue in the bowl (1), and started mixing it together with my hands. It started out very stringy (2), and I thought I had done something wrong already. However, the more you mix it, the more those fibers start to stick together (3). My biggest mistake was waiting too long to add the food color. I guess I had little faith that it was going to work out or something. Anyway, adding it at the end was a bit like mixing food coloring into a mostly done omelet (4).
Side note #1: I gagged several times while mixing this little project together, and I didn’t even think I had tactile issues. The consistency in the beginning can be a bit gross, and might be something to consider if you are going to make this together with a child that has sensory processing issues. Even with the finished product there were a lot of children that wouldn’t come close to touching this, even if they didn’t mind regular therapy putty.
Side note #2: I thought it would be fun to play with the ratios of glue to liquid starch to see if I could make the mixture a bit firmer, like regular therapy putty. Adding more starch made the putty a bit more dense, but then chunks would simply rip off instead of being pliable, essentially rendering it useless for what I wanted to use it for. After a few tries, I decided to stick with the 1:1 ratio.
Once I had mixed it all together, I decided to compare my creation to actual therapy putty. The result? No comparison.
Notice the difference in the overall stability of the two globs of putty? The DIY putty eventually spread out to fill the entire paper plate, while the regular putty (medium resistance) kept its shape. The DIY putty reminded me more of that Nickelodeon Gak I used to play with when I was a kid. Even Silly Putty is firmer than this creation.
However, since I had braved the gagging and messy hands, I decided to see what I could do with this putty.
-I hid some small beads in the mixture, but they were only hiding under a thin film. Not too much digging required here.
-I then tried to stick some “Lite Brite” pegs into the mixture, but they barely stayed in place. It was more fun just to take the pegs and poke a bunch of holes in the putty.
-This eventually just became more of a sensory task with the children. They liked the feel of playing with it and squishing it in their hands. While it could still be used for some fine motor strengthening, you aren’t going to get the resistance of the real therapy putty.
So no, I didn’t find a substitute for therapy putty. However, I will still say that I found a recipe for a fun sensory “goo.” I might not be making this for myself again any time soon, but I will definitely recommend it as a good activity to try at home.