Jello has never looked so beautiful. Who knew clear gelatin could turn into a work of art? We took a bowl full of clear gelatin, and used plastic pipettes (eye droppers) to inject food coloring, and liquid watercolors into the gelatin. For added effect, we placed the gelatin on top of a light source, which shined through, and made the whole activity glow!
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- Clear gelatin- Knox Gelatine Original
- Neon food coloring- Wilton Neon Gel Food Color Set
- Liquid watercolors- Sargent Art Fluorescent Watercolor Magic Set (We LOVE these!)
- Plastic pipettes/eye droppers- Plastic Transfer Pipettes
- Large clear storage bucket.
- Clear serving platter to place your gelatin on.
- Table cloth, or white shower curtain liner.
- Cups to hold the food coloring, or use ice pop molds like we do-Ice Pop Mold Popsicle Maker
- LED flashlight, lantern, or spotlight. I used a small LED spotlight I stole from my husband. The light you use must be small enough to fit under the upside down storage container you use.
For this activity you just need to spread out a shower curtain, place a large storage bucket upside down, and put a flashlight, or small LED spotlight underneath the bucket. We used a small LED spotlight that we plugged into a nearby outlet. Then just place the platter of gelatin on top of the bucket where the light source is, and grab your food coloring, and/or liquid watercolors.More detailed set up instructions are at the end of the post, including tips on how to set this activity up for easy clean up!
After you have everything set up, start by slowly injecting the colors into the gelatin. I found it worked best if you push the pipette into the gelatin, and release the color as you slowly remove the pipette, so that the color fills in the hole you made on the way in. Of course, it looks beautiful no matter how crazy your child gets! My daughter just stabbed, and squeezed as she pleased, and even splashed some colors on top of the mold. Though I do have to say, she was pretty gentle for a two-year old. She usually is, unless she is mad at me.
Every once in a while, she would stop to smack the gelatin, and a laugh. Here is a video of her smacking the gelatin. I got the best videos ever using boomerang on Instagram. We have had many laughs just re-watching the videos.
After awhile, she started pulling a few pieces of gelatin off, and once I noticed how beautiful the pieces looked floating in the puddle of liquid, I joined in the fun. I have seen pictures of this activity before, but I have never seen pictures of it deconstructed, and I have to say, this was the most amazing part of the activity in my opinion. Perhaps, by the time people got to the destructive part the gelatin was already a brown, “ugly” mess, or perhaps the adult didn’t let them deconstruct the gelatin. I may never know why I haven’t seen pictures like this, but I am sharing them with you now! My secret to not having a brown, or purple mess is that I limited the colors I gave to her. Had the colors not been neon, I would have only let her have warm colors (red, yellow, pink, and orange) at first, and saved the cool colors (purple, blue, and green) for the end of the activity.
She had so much fun slowly demolishing the mass of colored gelatin!
After she completely deconstructed the gelatin, I decided that I would add a different color into the mix. I know my daughter loves the color purple, yet I had purposely kept that color out of the mix at first, because I knew that the whole thing would look purple, or brown, if I let her mix purple with the other colors. Excuse me for the picture overload that is about to follow, but you will thank me when you see how beautiful the pictures turned out.
Detailed Set Up Instructions-
To create the gelatin base, we mixed up a large mixing bowl of full of clear gelatin. We used Knox Blocks Original Gelatin, because that is what was at our local grocery store. We ended up using 8 small packets of Knox Blocks, they come in a box of 4 packets, or a big box of 32 packets. Eight small packets filled up about half of a large plastic mixing bowl once all the water was added. Jello also makes clear gelatin, but the one I found was flavored, and smelled delicious. If you use food coloring instead of liquid watercolors, your child could taste the gelatin, but their mouth would look pretty gross afterward! I wanted this activity to be about art, and beautiful colors, so I went with the unappetizing unflavored gelatin. If you want to be on the safe side, and have a child that sometimes put things in their mouth, I would definitely stick to using food coloring!
I made the gelatin according to the instructions on the box, and placed it in the fridge overnight, and distracted my daughter with other activities. You don’t have to wait that long, but I wanted to make sure we didn’t get so impatient that the Jello wasn’t firm enough to inject the colors!
The next morning, I warmed the outside of the bowl with some warm water to help release the gelatin, and carefully inserted a plastic knife in between the edges of the gelatin, and the bowl. I ran the knife around the entire outside circle of gelatin, keeping the knife as far down into the bowl as it would reach. Then I grabbed my large clear, plastic platter, slowly flipped the bowl over, and watched the big blob of gelatin release from the bowl, and onto the platter. Then the giggles started, as I couldn’t resist slapping the blob, and showing my daughter how it jiggled.
For this activity, we used neon orange, and neon pink gel food coloring, and blue, yellow, and green neon liquid water colors. I added a small amount of warm water to each color to dissolve the gel food coloring, and make it to where the plastic pipettes could suck up the liquid easily. If you are using liquid watercolors, you don’t have to dilute them, but I find that they last longer, and are still vibrant if you add just a little water to them. I like to use ice pop molds like the one listed in the materials, because it’s the perfect depth for the pipettes, and I don’t have to worry about having multiple containers that my daughter can easily spill. If you use an ice pop mold like the one I listed, you have a spot for eight different colors all in one container. This also makes clean up a breeze!
We used a separate pipette for each color, but if you only have one eye dropper, that’s okay too. I recommend buying the plastic pipettes I have in the material list, or similar ones, because they can be used for countless other fun activities. If you don’t want to spend extra money, you can just use an old medicine dropper from your kids old medicine. I know I have a few medicine droppers in my medicine cabinet!
After getting everything ready, I spread out a shower curtain liner on the floor, which I full recommend, because you can just pop it in the washer when you are finished! I grabbed our usual sensory bucket, which is just a large clear storage bucket, turned it upside down, and placed my husbands LED spot light underneath. Then I placed the platter of gelatin on top of the upside down storage container, grabbed the ice pop mold full of liquid colors, and pipettes, and placed them on top of a metal cookie sheet to catch any stray drops of color that might fall during transfer to the gelatin.
If you set up your activity similar to this, clean up will be a breeze! All I had to do was wipe off my storage bucket, throw the colored gelatin down the drain disposal, throw the shower curtain in the washer, and wash off the platter, cookie pan, and ice pop mold. If you bought the pipettes I recommend, you could dispose of them, since they come in a pack of 100 pipettes, but I rinse them out, and keep them, as long as they don’t develop mold, which is easy to see since they are clear.
Clean up took me no more than fifteen minutes, maybe even less than that! There was zero mess on my floor, because the shower curtain caught what little mess there was. As far as my daughter, I just washed her hands, and arms in the sink, and used a rag on her legs. My daughter’s hands were stained, but that went away in the bath tub later that night. If you have an art smock, you could use that to cover your child’s clothes, or just throw one of your old tee shirts on them like I do.
What are you waiting on? Go grab some gelatin, and have some fun! This will definitely be the most beautiful activity you have ever done with your kids. Have you done this activity before? We’d love you hear your thoughts, and questions below in the comments! If you like this project, you can pin it for later, or share it on Facebook.