Squishy Fun without the Mess
- What: Playfoam
- When: 2 years and up
- Why: Less mess, more fun, affordable, durable
- Where: Amazon
Perhaps you hate Play-Doh but don’t want to stifle your child’s sensory experiences. If so, check out Playfoam for a non-stick, non-drying material to satisfy almost all your child’s creative urges. (Though it won’t help with the writing on the walls.)
Playfoam consists of tiny styrofoam beads, about the size of a pencil dot, held together with colored go of some sort. If you ever played with Floam as a child, you will recognize this stuff. No one seems to know what exactly the magic material contains. (Oh wait, it looks like the company did post a list of ingredients: polybutene polymer, polyisobutylene polymer, styrofoam beads, and coloring pigment.) This non-toxic and non-allergenic material has an oddly satisfying squish to it. I find myself squeezing it just for the novelty effect, so you can imagine how kids react.
Even though the company keeps the exact recipe top secret, it doesn’t stain furniture or stick to anything but itself, yet will mold and hold any shape. You can combine colors, but you will never separate them again (unless you want to spend hours picking and sorting each tiny dot) even though the individual dots don’t mix colors.
The manufacturer recommends ages three and up, though I gave it to my 23 month old who had passed the everything goes in the mouth stage with no issues. You know your child, and if you change your mind, you can always play with it yourself until they get older.
I ordered a set of eight different colors and have never needed more. My kids don’t play with it much anymore, but that’s less a lack of interest and more me streamlining the vast number of creative project oriented things we own. This stuff will last forever, and you don’t even have to store it covered. It never dries out yet somehow still sticks to itself without developing an attachment to much of anything else. I would not recommend putting it near hair or fur, but that’s a different story.
The pack of eight I ordered filled roughly two standard plastic Easter eggs with each color, for a total of 12 eggs. I store the playfoam inside the same Easter eggs, though you can leave it sitting out with no issues. Of our original 12 or so, I can still find five eggs worth, and have enough to make some fun things.