I want to highlight one of my favorite ‘recipes’ today that I use throughout the school year – puffy paint! As an OT, I’m always looking for fun new ways to engage with my students. Over the years, I have really enjoyed doing sensory ‘cooking’ groups with the students, where they participate in the process of making something and then use it within play. For example, we’ve made slime, cloud dough, play dough and my top go to – puffy paint. I’ll walk you through the steps to make it today and give you ideas on how you can use this simple recipe throughout the year.
Gather your materials
I think one of the main reasons I love this activity so much is that it is so simple! All of these materials are typically standard in a classroom and you really don’t need that much. Here’s what you will need:
- Shaving Cream
- Liquid glue
- Large bowl
- Large spoon
- Measuring cup
- Paint (if you want to make it colorful)
You could even make this step therapeutic by having your students help with the preparation! Depending on your group, you could lay out all of the materials and have the students practice following directions – ‘ find the shaving cream’. You could also not put any of the ingredients out and the student will have to initiate problem solving and asking for help.
Make the puffy paint
Here are the steps to follow:
- Measure 1 cup of shaving cream and pour it in the bowl
- Measure 1 cup of glue and pour it in the bowl
- Mix it up
- Add a drop or two of paint if you’d like to make it colorful
As I mentioned earlier, I like to do this in a small group setting. The amount of structure you have will depend on your group. There are so many awesome motor benefits to the activities below – measuring, pouring, mixing – so as much as the students can participate in them, the better! You could assign students a role at the beginning (someone in charge of shaving cream, someone in charge of glue, etc). I do like to have all the students participate in the mixing step as it is an excellent bilateral coordination activity. If you want each student to participate in the measure and pour, you could have them measure out smaller amounts (like 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup). This will all depend on your group makeup, the time and support you have, and how much wait time you want between each student’s turn.
Pro tip – the best ratio for shaving cream to glue is equal parts. So don’t get too caught up in measuring exactly 1 cup out. I find it just makes it more concrete for our students.
Now the fun begins! Once you have mixed up your creation, it’s time to paint. You can scoop some of the paint onto the paper. I love letting kids use their hands if they are willing! It is an awesome sensory experience. Make sure you give students an extra scoop if they are using their hands as they tend to press down on the paint – if they press down too hard, it won’t puff up – so giving them a little extra can be helpful. If a student tends to avoid tactile input, try giving him a spoon or paintbrush to use to spread the paint out.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use this sensory creation.
- Free art! Put out a bunch of random art supplies and let the students add to their puffy creation.
- Puffy ghosts
- Puffy snowmen
- Puffy trees
- Puffy hearts
- Puffy shamrocks
- Seriously, you can make anything puffy!
You can easily use this throughout the year to go along with holidays and themes! You can upgrade or downgrade these activities as appropriate in a variety of ways. You can have the shape and its parts cut out already, or having students do some of the cutting themselves. For example, if I’m making puffy ghosts and some of the students are working on cutting curved lines, I may have them work on cutting the ghost shape out themselves instead of me having it already precut. Instead of cutting out a shape, you could draw the outline of the shape you want the student to paint within. You can also experiment with the embellishments and decoration for some of the activities. The best part is, the paint already has glue in it – so any item you put on the paint will automatically stick. For the snowmen, you could have hats cut out from construction paper for students to simply place on, you could have the student cut out a hat, or you could use squeezable glitter glue to have a student draw their own hat as pictured below. There are so many options!
I hope you have fun with this sensory recipe throughout your school year!