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Ooey Gooey Oily Process Art

by Jean Van't Hul
September 19, 2015

Post by Ana Dziengel

I used to be intimidated about trying science projects at home with my kids until I learned this simple trick :: introduce science through art!

My kids love process art projects, so using art to talk about scientific concepts is both creative and educational. And the more irresistible the project, the better! I mean seriously, what kid can resist making an ooey gooey sticky art mess like this?

Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art
Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art

Nice to meet you!

I’m Ana, a former architect turned stay at home mom and blogger. I write over at Babble Dabble Do where I focus on art, science, design, and engineering for kids. I am also a regular contributor to PBS Parents if you want to check out what we do over there. But beyond all that I am a HUGE Artful Parent fan and am so grateful to be with you here on one of my all-time favorite blogs!

Learning Through Creative Projects

One of the things I love most about The Artful Parent is Jean’s ability to weave art lessons into everyday life, activities, and other disciplines like engineering and science. I am a huge believer in cross disciplinary projects; I believe that kids learn best when doing projects that span multiple subjects and engage them both creatively and intellectually.

When we did today’s project together my daughter kept asking me if I knew the liquids wouldn’t mix beforehand. I loved that she asked me to explain what was happening! Now before we get started I want you to check out how exciting this project can be, especially if you pay attention to details.

Ooey Gooey, Oily Art


  • White Plates (Ceramic or Styrofoam work best)
  • Baby Oil
  • Corn Syrup
  • Almond Milk
  • Food Coloring
  • Spoons and containers
  • Eye Droppers (optional)
  • Magnifying glass
Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art Materials


  1. Cover your work space

    Note :: This is a messy project!! Be sure to cover your work surface to protect it if necessary.

  2. Prepare your liquids

    Get your colored liquids ready by mixing corn syrup with red, blue, and yellow food coloring in separate containers. Do the same for the colored water.

  3. Prepare the rest of your materials

    Set up the project. Place different plates on the table along with the corn syrup, colored water, a small cup of almond milk, a bottle of baby oil, spoons, and the eye droppers.

  4. Experiment!

    Start experimenting with combining liquids. Encourage your kids to try different combinations in each plate to see how they interact.

  5. Look Closely

    Observe the interaction. Take the magnifying glass and watch the liquids interact up close. We filmed ours using a macro lens and the magnified view is stunning!

Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art

Some Successful Combinations

Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art Combinations
  • Corn Syrup Only: This is just lovely to see. Corn syrup has a thick glossy look to it so layering the three primary colors of corn syrup on top of each other makes for some explosive color combinations.
  • Almond Milk + Corn Syrup: Coat the bottom of your plate with a very thin layer of milk (pour off excess if you have too much), then drip corn syrup on the milk. The corn syrup will have a soft look along the edges.
  • Baby Oil + Colored Water: The classic experiment. Pour a layer of baby oil in the bottom of your plate, then use eyedroppers to drop the colored water on top. Make sure to pick up the plate and gently tilt it to watch the water droplets move around, unable to combine with the oil.
  • Baby Oil + Corn Syrup: Pour a layer of baby oil in the bottom of the plate then drip corn syrup on top. Similar to water, the corn syrup cannot combine with the oil and forms droplets, only these drops take a few seconds to form because the corn syrup has high viscosity ( I hope that word doesn’t scare you! See “The Science Behind This Project” to see what I’m talking about!)
  • Our Favorite: Almond Milk + Corn syrup, then Baby oil and more corn syrup: This is the ultimate layered version. We even did all this and then added milk and water.
Process Art for Kids - Exploring Ooey Gooey Oily Art


This is process art at it’s best, the joy is in the making. When you are done, either rinse off the disposable plates and recycle them or wash off your ceramic plates. The corn syrup only versions will dry over the course of a week if you want to try saving them, but the oily ones will not.

The Science Behind This Project

There are a few scientific concepts that Ooey Gooey Oily Art demonstrates. As your child is doing the project and their curiosity is naturally piqued, jump in and tell them what’s going on!

  • Polarity: Certain molecules are attracted to or repel other molecules. Liquids with similar amounts of polarity are attracted to each other, water and milk for instance, and liquids with different polarity repel each other, oil and corn syrup or pretty much oil and anything!
  • Density: Density is the measure of how heavy and closely packed the molecules of a substance are. Water molecules are very densely packed while oil is less dense, making water heavier than oil. When you combine them, the water sinks to the bottom and the oil floats on top.
  • Viscosity: Viscosity is the measure of friction in a liquid and determines how fast or slow a liquid flows. Water has a low viscosity and flows quickly while corn syrup has high viscosity and moves slowly.
  • Color Mixing: Limiting this project to red, blue, and yellow is the perfect way to show how the primary colors combine to make secondary colors and eventually brown if you continue to combine them.
Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art Up Close


Okay, so was introducing a little science into a project as hard as you thought it might be? I hope projects like this will give you the confidence to explore a little science at home with your kids regardless of your background. Your kids will have fun, think creatively, and make some observations about the world!

About the Author

Ana Dziengel of Babble Dabble Do

Ana Dziengel is an architect, award winning furniture designer, and mom blogger. In 2012 Ana left behind an architecture career to be a SAHM, professional crafter, amateur scientist, and impromptu art teacher to her three young children.

She blogs at Babble Dabble Do.

If you love the intersection of science and art here are three more science art projects to try ::

Science Art Ideas

Gelatin Streaking  |  Magnetic Sculptures   |  Spin Art Tops

Pin It for Later ::

Process Art for Kids - Ooey Gooey Oily Art

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