Kids love to get messy! They love to get their hands dirty and explore using their senses. I am a strong believer that hands-on learning and exploration is one of the best ways to learn. Sensory play allows kids of all ages to learn and experience the world using their senses. This a great activity to do outside, and is perfect for the summer. I did this sensory activity with a group several months ago, but recently did it with my own kids at home, and they loved it!
For this art activity I wanted kids to create a colour wheel. I also wanted to have them create it through sensory play. I have done finger painting many times with my own kids and they always love it, but this was a whole new experience!
Using large bowls, I added each of the colours needed to create our colour wheel. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. (The colour wheel template I used is available for FREE download through Teachers Pay Teachers. Link at bottom.)
In each of the paints I added something so that it was textured. You can add whatever you have on hand. I added something different to each colour. For one colour I added flour which created a kind of paste.
To the yellow, I added couscous. Children found the yellow tricky to paint with. However, it was a great material for sensory play because it made the paint feel different from what they were expecting. The children were also very aware of the feeling on their finger as they rubbed the paint and couscous onto the page.
I added some soap to the green paint. The soap did not change the feel of the paint as much as the couscous, but it did create an interesting feeling of the paint being “slippery”.
I added some shaving cream into the red paint and children LOVED watching me squirt into the paint and mixing with their fingers. Baking soda was also added into the paint which created a “crunchy” texture compared to the flour.
To the blue paint I added some table salt. I encouraged children to describe how each of the paints felt when they painted with it. It was a great way for them to reflect on what they were feeling, but I was also really impressed with the adjectives they came up with. The salt felt “gritty” and “sandy”.
This is a wonderful, and easy activity to encourage sensory play at home, or anytime with kids. On its own, finger painting is a great sensory experience, but adding different materials to the paint changes and heightens the experience.
I have done this type of sensory play before, but have switched up the materials that I add to the paint depending what I have available. Some extra ideas of materials to mix in are: sand, oatmeal, cornstarch, cereal, rice, sprinkles, sparkles, honey, applesauce. The options are endless!
If you want to try this activity with really young kids who you worry may try to taste the paint, you still can! When my kids were young, I used to use vanilla yogurt and with a few drops of food colouring. They would finger paint using the yogurt and I didn’t have to worry if they ate any of it. I would then make sure that what I added was also safe for them to eat, such as applesauce. Have fun creating!
I loved using the colour wheel printable because I think it keeps this sensory play from getting overly messy. Children worked really hard to keep each paint colour inside the proper part of the colour wheel. For a FREE colour wheel printable you can use with this activity, click the image or link above.
For more art activities for kids, try out our Summer Crayon Art.