Why slime is so valuable for kids (and adults).

by Jessica Schlegel (BA Education) for Avocadoslimeez

We have known kneading and playing in the mud for a long time and we know from experience that children have always enjoyed it, including us. The whole thing is called “Messy Play ”. “ Messy ” stands for messy, chaotic and muddy, but in the case of “ messy plays” in a good sense. Slime is in the same vein and yet offers very special and unique properties.

As adults, we often focus on everything that could break or get dirty. It sticks, maybe makes stains or ends up under the sofa. We lose sight of what our children miss out on when we forbid them from playing with these things. Adults also benefit from playing with slime.

Why slime is so great? This is explained below for legal guardians, family members and professionals who work with children.

There is a summary marked in red at the end of each chapter .

Slime and children

Not only is it so much fun for children to play with slime, it is also beneficial for their development. How exactly is explained below:

  1. Promotion of different skills

  • Promote sensory skills : (sensory = relating to the sense organs) smell and touch (warm/cold, soft/hard, chewy, yielding/unyielding, smooth, flaky, creamy, etc.). Slime can also make wonderful different sounds that can be experimented with. Which slime makes the biggest bubbles?
    Which are the loudest noises? How are the sounds different?
    The slimes also have a wide variety of scents.
     Due to the incredible number of types of slime, there are many different textures and the slime behaves differently. There is a lot to discover and compare between different slimes and it can be discovered with (almost) all senses (the sense of taste is strongly discouraged!)
  • Promotion of (fine) motor skills : modelling, dividing, pressing, making bubbles, turning, squeezing
  • Promoting language : If you play with the child, you can ask the research questions (see appendix below) and, for example, try to describe in words what the slimes smell like or how you would put the different sounds into words.
  • Promoting creativity and imagination : forming shapes, but there is also the possibility of incorporating them into play, for example in the play kitchen or as a swamp for the Lego figures
  • By allowing messy play, children can not only gain positive experiences, but according to play therapist Hanson, they can also learn to contain the “mess.” In this way they learn to accept where messy games can be played, under what conditions and how to keep the “chaos” within these limits (cf. Hanson 2002, p. 17). At the end, they can also be involved in tidying up and thus learn responsibility.


  1. Acquiring the world with your senses

  • Children can gain lots of experiences with Messy Play . One can speak here of aesthetic appropriation of the world, i.e. roughly speaking, using the senses, art and the desire to create to form an image of oneself and the world and to show it to the outside world when we adults only look at it (cf. Hanson 2002 , p.15f.)
  • “Children [persecute, ed. V.] different ways of surveying and designing materials […]. In addition to the fun and enjoyment of experiencing haptic impressions, it is interesting for children to explore the possibilities of the material . It's about consistency and stability, but also about being able to reverse a design process and try out new design variants [Herv. JS]” (Osterholt, 2010, p.196f.).
  • When kneading, children can form concrete structures and figures. It's usually not that precise with slime. However, Bingsu slimes and butter slimes, for example, can be formed and then the shape melts again . Each type of slime can be shaped into abstract shapes. Holes can be poked into it with your fingers and you can watch how the slime deforms and how long it takes until it flows back into its original shape.
  • “Deforming, reinterpreting and alienating aims at combinatorial thinking and the ability to restructure . Like children's drawings, the three-dimensional designs are representations of the child's inner life and combine the emotional, communicative, fantastic and unconscious" [Herv. JS] (Osterholt, 2010, p.198f.).

  1. Time together for every family constellation or professional work with children

  • With Slime you can play according to age and needs. The different needs of those playing can be taken into account.
    For younger children, it is recommended that they only use slime under adult supervision for safety, older children can also use it alone.
  • But the best thing is playing together. It's excellent bonding time
    Children really appreciate when adults try out “messy” things with them (cf. Hanson 2002, p. 17). Siblings, other family members or friends can also play together and spend a very special time together. Especially in teamwork , special achievements can be achieved, such as making particularly large bubbles with slime. To do this, everyone must coordinate and communicate with one another. A great exercise!
  • Slime can also be a great icebreaker for bonding with kids. This can be privately as a new family member in a blended family, as a guardian of a new (perhaps shy) foster child or at a family celebration.
    Even in a professional environment, as a (new) educational specialist, you can very well build a relationship with the children through Messy Play with Slime, as play therapist Sally Hanson does in her Play Therapy (cf. Hanson 2002, p . 21f.). This is suitable, for example, for educational specialists (including teachers), nursing staff in children's wards or, for example, people who work with refugee children.

  1. Age-appropriate play and research

  • Every child wants to discover and research and should be allowed to do so. With Slime there are so many ways to pursue this urge and to make research more free or structured as you wish and to adapt it to the age, needs of the children and level of knowledge.
    The approaches to research and dealing with MINT topics (math, computer science, natural sciences, technology) can be easily integrated into everyday life with Slime, both at home and in daycare centers. This way you can look at what slime is made of and learn about its physical properties through experiments. More on this can be found in the appendix below.
    (Recommendation: House of Little Researchers)
  • While playing together, the children can be strengthened in their spirit of inquiry and encouraged to ask questions , test them out (e.g. how long can I pull the slime?) and also express them in language (e.g. how would I describe the sound of this slime? ). You can also work with the research group . This can provide a precursor to scientific research and show children the fun of science.

 Researchers' Circle (simplified version of the Little Researchers' House):


  1. Good for concentration problems, stress and anxiety

  • Playing with slime helps with concentration because it is essentially a fidget toy that fulfills the body's need to move, thereby improving attention.
    In a Business Insider interview with psychologist Moritz Daum from the University of Zurich, the following can be found:
     “'The body wants to move. It’s helpful if he’s given a pointless task,” explains Daum. We do it unconsciously all by ourselves: turning the pen in our hand, chewing on the pen or biting our nails. The so-called 'fidget toys' [...] give the body a task that 'satisfies' the need for movement. This improves cognitive attention. […] 'An important aspect that these fidget toys have to fulfill is that the operation is essentially pointless'. 'Pointless' means: "I don't have to use any concentration to use it." (Business Insider, June 16, 2017)
  • Some children have difficulty concentrating when an activity does not provide much sensory input. Thomspon and Raisor mention fidget toys or something to do with your hands (like with slime) in class as a good way to improve concentration in the classroom (cf. Thompson & Raisor 2013, p. 42). This can also be applied to the day care center, the care facility or at home, for example when learning vocabulary.
  • Play therapist Hanson observes that playing with slime and other messy materials allows children to deal with difficulties they have in the “real” world. They learn different ways to deal with their feelings (cf. Hanson 2002, p. 29).
  • Children can also reduce anxiety and stress by playing with slime . Stress balls for children who have to deal with strong aggression are well known. Slime can also fulfill this function as well.
  • Slime can become a tool for children's self-regulation. They learn to pay attention to their bodies and to independently access the tools that they have been shown (cf. Thompson & Raisor, 2013, p. 37). This allows them to act independently when they notice that they cannot concentrate or need to reduce stress.
  • The slime itself has no fixed shape or expectation. It is a "nothing" and can be played with by the children without great expectations, such as at school.
    When making pottery or kneading, one expects a certain product; the children have an idea of ​​successful or unsuccessful figures or feel the expectations placed on them in this regard. Slime is easy and it doesn't have to be anything. It's enough to just deal with it and be in the moment. Slime offers children permission to simply exist without expectations , which can be very liberating for them (cf. Hanson 2002, p. 24).

Children too, or even especially, have sensory needs. Different children process sensory stimuli differently . Therefore, for the sake of completeness, it must also be mentioned that although there are many children for whom playing with slime is good, there are also cases for whom it is (at first) too much (cf. Thompson & Raisor, 2013). It is best to accompany the child and approach it slowly if you have no experience with the child. However, anyone who has ever seen the child happily playing with mud or play dough can usually not worry. 


-> Slime can be used both at home and by all professionals who work with children (if working conditions permit)

-> Promotion of skills:
- sensory such as seeing, feeling, smelling, hearing
-motor skills through editing the slime
-Promoting language through playing together
-Promoting imagination and creativity

-> Learn how to limit messy play and clean up responsibly

-> It is an opportunity to make the world your own and express yourself through your senses and play.

-> Excellent bonding time as a family or in the professional field. Kids really appreciate when adults play messy games with them and it's a great icebreaker

-> Children can pursue their natural urge to explore and experimentation can be made more free or structured. You can get them excited about MINT topics (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, technology) and create a preliminary stage for scientific research.

-> Slime can be seen as a fidget toy and can help keep the hands busy in the absence of sensory input, increasing the ability to concentrate.

-> It can also help children deal with fear, stress and aggression and other big feelings. If you teach it to children, they can later use this tool independently to deal with anxiety, stress or concentration problems.

-> Slime offers children a game in which there are no expectations of them producing a successful 'product' (e.g. like with clay and dough). You have permission to simply exist and experience, which can be very liberating.

-> It is best to observe the child to see whether he or she generally likes messy play . For few children it is sensory overload. But if the child likes playdough, mud and sand, then slime is the perfect toy

Slime and adults

It's not just children who benefit from playing with slime. Adults can also use it to keep their hands busy, to pursue their own urge to explore and to reduce stress, among other things.

  • Many comments and reviews of slimes show that slime helps adults deal with anxiety and stress and contributes to reducing anxiety and stress.
  • Many adults also seem to slime while working from home, in video conferences and during online university to keep their hands busy and stay focused. Slime can be seen as a fidget toy and helps relieve stress and focus . How this works has already been described (under Good for concentration problems, stress and anxiety)
  • Working and playing with slime can be used as a hand training tool as a therapy tool , for example after a broken hand
  • According to Pliske, Stauffer and Werner-Lin , (messy) play with the hands can even offer adults with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) a form of self-care and healing (cf. Pliske et al. 2021).
  • In a study by Forsyth and Trevarrow, addressing the sensory needs (including sensory play) of adults was shown to have a positive impact on mental health .
    In an acute psychiatric ward for men, a 'sensory room' was created, a place where patients could find peace and, among other things (rocking chair, weighted blankets, noise-cancelling headphones, lighting options) and fidget toys (cf. Forsyth & Trevarrow , 2018, p. 1691). The room was intended to be used for de-escalation (to calm down when one is emotionally upset or to prevent conflicts from escalating) and it was also used to prepare for stressful events. The setting was crucial: there was a separate quiet room and the various (sensory) needs of the patients were taken into account. Fidget toys were part of an overall concept and could offer people a tool with which they learned to deal with their emotional stress (cf. Forsyth & Trevarrow, 2018, p. 1692ff).
    It also turned out that the employees also benefited from this and that the space and the utensils provided allowed them to respond to their own emotional needs, among other things (cf. Forsyth & Trevarrow, 2018, p. 1694).

Adults have sensory needs too and it's just fun to play with slime. Give it a try 😊


Slime can also offer a lot to adults. It can be used to deal with stress, anxiety and other unpleasant feelings . It can also help you concentrate . It can also contribute to healing the inner child or training after hand injuries . And ultimately it's just fun! 😊

All sources:

  • Hanson, S. (2002). When All the World Was Slime. In: Cattanach, Ann (ed.). The story so far. Play Therapy Narratives . Jessica Kingsley Publishers. New York: 13-33
    Google books URL: shorturl.at/cho27. (Accessed 10/12/22).
  • House of Little Researchers (as of January 2021). The research circle. URL: https://www.haus-der-kleinen-forschung.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/1_Forschen/Paedagogik/forschungskreis_NaWi.pdf
    (Accessed 10/12/22).
  • Forsyth, A.S. and Trevarrow, R. (2018). Sensory strategies in adult mental health: A qualitative exploration of staff perspectives following the introduction of a sensory room on a male adult acute ward. Int J Mental Health Nurse , 27: 1689-1697. URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12466 (Accessed 10/12/22).
  • A Business Insider, interview with Prof. Dr. Moritz Daum (June 16, 2017). Finally stop using fidget spinners — they are completely ineffective . URL: https://www.businessinsider.de/forschung/psychologe-erklaert-warum-fidget-spinner-voellig-effektslos-sind-2017-6/ (accessed on October 3, 2022).
  • Osterholt, N. (2010). Plasticizing and crafting. In: Duncker, L., Lieber, G., Neuss, N., & Uhlig, B. (2010). Education in childhood. The handbook for learning in kindergarten and primary school . Fulda: Klett-Kallmeyer.
  • Pliske, MM, Stauffer, SD, & Werner-Lin, A. (2021). Healing from adverse childhood experiences through therapeutic powers of play: “I can do it with my hands”. International Journal of Play Therapy, 30 (4), 244-258. https://doi.org/10.1037/pla0000166. (Accessed 10/12/22).
  • Thompson, S., D. & Raisor, J., M. (2013). Meeting the Sensory Needs of Young Children. In: YC Young children 68(2): 34-43. URL: https://openlab.bmcc.cuny.edu/ece110-151l-fall2021/wp-content/uploads/sites/504/2020/08/Thompson-Raisor-Meeting-the-Sensory-Needs-of-Young- Children.pdf. (Accessed 10/12/22).

About the author:

Jessica Schlegel, BA General Education at the Friedrich Alexander University
Currently in the process of writing my master's thesis in cultural and aesthetic education
5 years of experience in after-school care (education)

Completed further training courses at the House of Little Researchers:
“MINT glasses” digital educational offer
“MINT is everywhere” digital education offer