"For the youngest kids, art is really about the tactility of the materials, what they feel like," says Abbey Hendrickson, a former educator at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. We can't think of a more tactile experience than squeezing and pressing designs into these sealed bags of colored cornstarch. For an interesting light-table effect, tape a bag to a low window and let your child use his fingers to draw patterns while the sun shines through.
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups cold water
2 gallon-size ziplock bags
Over medium heat, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and water in a saucepan, stirring continuously.
Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove the pan from the heat and stir for another minute or so until it thickens to a pudding like consistency. Let it cool for 30 minutes.
Spoon the mixture into two bowls, stir a few drops of food coloring into each (we used red and yellow), then divide the colors between the ziplock bags. Seal the bags with duct tape and let your child mix and mash the colors (they'll keep for up to a week).