Are your kids coming home from school covered in glitter?
Is your contact solution disappearing rather quickly?
Do you always seem to be out of glue?
If so, your kids are probably into slime — a trend oozing through middle schools statewide.
Slime is sort of like a homemade Silly Putty, but stickier. Made from simple household ingredients (including glue, contact solution, borax and shaving cream), slime has become such a hit with tween girls that Target and Walgreens have had runs on glue, and Office Depot and Office Max are offering recipes online and slime-making demonstrations in their stores nationwide.
What’s the attraction?
“It’s satisfying to play with,” said Petra Lyon, a student at Breck School in Golden Valley. “Class can be boring, and we need something to fidget with.”
Kids, it turns out, do more than just fidget with it. They get together to make it, give it away as tokens of friendship or sell it. Making slime has turned into a bona fide business, with middle-schoolers selling it on Instagram and Snapchat for $1 to $5. Slime-related accounts on Instagram have upward of 700,000 followers and the hashtag #slime has 2.8 million posts and counting.
Annabell Sorensen is a 12-year-old slime connoisseur at South View Middle School in Edina. She describes the “ideal” slime as “stretchy, fun to play with and a little sticky.” Depending on the ingredients and amounts, slime can end up too sticky, too stringy or too dry, she explained. Like many girls, Annabell has a favorite recipe, which she personalizes with food coloring, glitter, even little Styrofoam balls.
Gigi Shapiro, who attends Breck, has been in the slime game for about three months. She sells her slime at school and advertises her wares by allowing classmates to use her slime for free for a class period.
According to Gigi, slime is strictly a girl thing. “Boys aren’t as crafty in our grade,” she said.
Annabell agreed. “Boys don’t have good luck with slime.” They tend to just poke at it or wrap it around their hands, when really they should stretch it or twist it. “They just can’t do it,” she said. “They have to have someone lead them.”
Annabell said she uses slime to help relax in class. “It kind of relieves stress when you’re overwhelmed at school,” she said. “Teachers think it’s a huge distraction, but it helps us.”
Some teachers in the Twin Cities area have banished it from their classrooms, and at least one school, Maple Grove Middle School, has banned it entirely.
“Our priority is that our kids are learning, and we found that slime was more of a distraction,” said Stacy Glaus, the director of communications for Breck. “There are other ways for our kids to stay focused.”
Teachers aren’t the only ones struggling with slime.
Rebecca Sorensen, Annabell’s mom, initially embraced the craze.
“I was on board because I thought, ‘Yea, social interaction!’ ” Sorensen said. “I was so encouraging in the beginning because I was so happy to have them off their phones and doing something kidlike.”
When her family took a trip to California on spring break, slime helped Annabell bond with the kids she met.
“It’s a conversation starter,” Sorensen said. “It’s an icebreaker; it gets them talking.”
But then she started finding little plastic bags of slime stashed around the house — lots of little plastic bags of slime.
“It started to take over our house,” she said. “We spent a weekend scrubbing the cabinets because everything had a film over it.”
There also have been some concerns about the safety of slime because recipes can include borax or boric acid. But Liz Heinecke, an Edina-based kids’ science expert known as the Kitchen Pantry Scientist, said the danger is overblown. “I think it’s safe enough that I let my own kids make slime and play with it, although I wouldn’t recommend eating it,” she said.
And while slime is all the rage now, it’s likely to go the way of other tween sensations, such as toe rings and fake buns.
So, for now, many moms think the gooey good outweighs the bad.
“I’d rather have them making slime than getting lost in social media,” Sorensen said. “The best part about slime is that it’s so social — it’s glue that puts people together.”
Kelsy Ketchum is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.