Squeezing Paint

Back Camera

I set N up with some paint pots and a large sheet of paper — our favorite way to paint big as of late. After smearing some paint around and taking a few stabs at mixing colors, she asked me for more purple paint. The paint pot wasn’t empty, and the real story ended up being that she wanted to SQUEEZE more paint into the paint pot. Of course she did! Toddlers adore squeezing, as we’ve noted with glue bottles, water bottles, and glitter glue. So I handed her the bottle, and the following drip and splatter-fest took place.

At a later point I encouraged her to walk through the paint to make footprints, which unfortunately led to a messy paint disaster that included falling into a big slippery puddle of paint. This led to laughing and commotion, but since my hands were then full with towels and buckets of water, I’ll spare you the image and leave the result to your imagination.

The timing was perfect because I just ordered a set of Nancy Paint Bottles, and they arrived late in yesterday’s mail. After N went to bed I filled them with paint, ready for morning squeezing experiments!

Wow! It makes green!

The splatters that came out of the almost empty bottles were rewarding in their own way. This isn’t the most economical way to use paint with a squeeze-happy toddler, but as she gets older I’m sure she’ll become more judicious with the paint pouring. I also envision other squeeze bottle experiments with glue, flour mixtures, and liquid watercolors.

What kind of squeeze bottle experiments have you had in your home or school?

Do you have any other ideas for materials that could be squeezed?

Flour and Water

table from above

We recently attended a back-to-school event at my daughter’s preschool, where her teacher shared a funny and inspiring story that involved a messy flour and water sensory activity. With my ears on the alert for fun and thoughtful creativity-builders, I knew immediately that this was something we had to try. It’s unbelievably simple and requires no art supplies…all you need is flour and water. It’s so straightforward, in fact, that I’m almost embarrassed it wasn’t already part of my repertoire. Strip your kids down and get ready for some messy flour fun. This activity is all about activating the senses, and will entertain your toddler or preschooler for a good long time. Guaranteed.

Before you get started, be prepared for a bit of mess, although nothing too cray-cray since it’s just flour and water. I set us up in the kitchen and placed the materials on a low table covered in oil cloth.

Our materials included a large mixing bowl, three little bowls, and a spoon. Two of the little bowls were half-full of flour, and the third was three quarters full of warm water. The large bowl was empty. Without giving her any directions, I merely placed the materials in front of my daughter and encouraged her exploration with comments such as “you’re dumping the flour in the large mixing bowl” and “what does the dough feel like in your hands?”

Pouring water with a spoon.

My daughter started by pouring all of the flour into the large bowl and mixing it dry. After playing with it for a bit, she requested more flour. I gave her two more bowls, one white and one wheat, and we talked about the differences for a moment before the scooping resumed.  After moving all of the flour into the large bowl, she scooped it all back up with her spoon and divided most of it up into the little bowls until they overflowed. At this point the water was still untouched, which really surprised me as I imagined she’d hastily dump the water in the large bowl in one big pour. Instead, she gently poured the water, spoonful by spoonful, into a small bowl of flour and mixed it in. And she was very careful to keep her hands clean throughout! No surprise there, as my child is obsessed with napkins and tidiness.

Hand mixing.

But as the activity escalated, one hand finally succumbed to hand mixing, and then the fun really began. She had a running commentary throughout the process that was fun to witness. I sounded something like this, “Now I’m mixing it with my hand. It’s like dough. I’m pouring more water in. I’m making bread dough. Can we make this in the bread maker?”

At the end of it all, she asked for a mid-day bath, and my trusty assistant/Mother-in-Law and I were more than happy to oblige.

More sensory ideas

  • Fill a tub with beans, rice, or sand. Offer your child small bowls and scoopers for filling and dumping.
  • Play with shaving cream.
  • Mix corn starch and water. What a strange feeling!
  • Play with ice cubes in a warm bath.
  • Shine a flashlight or experiment with a glow stick in a dark room.
  • Blow out candles.