Sensory Play Idea: Erupting Foam Dough

Oct 3, 2016

We love trying new sensory recipes for hands-on learning and this erupting foam dough recipe is so much fun! It acts and feels like cloud dough, but is a nice alternative to cloud dough because it erupts into a huge pile of bubbles with a little bit of science.

I really like this sensory play idea because it is quick and easy to make. In fact, it uses ingredients you likely already have on hand. I also love how this recipe changes as the kids play. It starts off as a crumbly sensory material, but evolves into a squishy bubbly mixture, and then eventually turns into oobleck.

A pair of hands holding crumbly-looking dough, ready for play.

How to Make Erupting Foam Dough for Sensory Play

To make this erupting foam dough, you will need:

  • 1 cup of foaming hand soap (We use scented castile soap in our foaming soap dispenser, so our erupting foam dough is mildly scented!)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • liquid watercolours or food colouring
  • vinegar
  • fine motor tools like eye dropper, turkey baster, spoons, measuring spoons or similar

Pump out 1 cup of foaming hand soap into a bowl. Mix a few squirts of liquid watercolour. Stir until the color is evenly distributed. Add the baking soda and corn starch. Stir until the dough is crumbly like below. You could add essential oils, spices, or even something like vanilla extract to the recipe to make the dough scented, if you'd like. It would be a great way to add an extra layer of sensory input to your child's play.

Hands patting a fistful of the dough.

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This erupting foam dough recipe feels and acts quite similar to cloud dough. So although this dough is crumbly and soft, it can be molded into 3D shapes.

A ball of the dough formed in a small baller.

To make the dough erupt, I set up a simple invitation using some fine motor tools, including an old medicine bottle and eye dropper that was filled with vinegar.

A tray of dough sitting next to a dropper bottle, an empty cup and two ballers.

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Once the vinegar is added to the foam dough, it starts bubbling like crazy! We all know how much kids love watching baking soda react to vinegar, but with the addition of soap to this mixture, even more bubbles are created! After the vinegar was added, my youngest son liked to scoop and stir the mixture with his hands, watching more bubbles form as the vinegar moved around the previously untouched spots of dough.

A dropper dropping vinegar onto the dough, where it is starting to fizz.

The whole tray of dough is fizzing!

As more liquid is added to the dough, it will start to turn into oobleck, which is another fantastic sensory experience for kids! The kids will love watching the dough change forms and textures throughout their playtime.

Article Author Dyan Robson
Dyan Robson

Read more from Dyan here.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is mom to two boys, J and K, who also teaches piano out of her home. On her blog And Next Comes L, Dyan shares her story of raising a child with hyperlexia, hypernumeracy and autism, amongst a variety of sensory activities for kids. You can find out more about their story on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.


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