Craftishness, Mamaishness, Teacherishness

Shaving cream!

preschool sensory activity

Here’s a moment of mothering honesty: my kids have watched way, way, way too much TV in the last few days. It was the end of Daddy’s winter break from school, on top of the frigid weather, so there was just too much craziness, and I gave in pretty much every single time they asked for another program.

Today’s post is all about great sensory stuff you can do with shaving cream. Yes, I did all of this in one day with both of them. No, I would normally never do this. However, today I was determined to cut down on the TV watching, so I knew I needed something pretty spectacular to divert their attention from the evil box.

sensory activity

We already had the can of shaving cream from our snow day activities. When I bought the shaving cream, I knew I’d want to let them use it for some more playtime, but I hadn’t really thought that out very far. Today, I brainstormed a bunch of different ideas, and you’ll see some of those below.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to try this:

  • -Less is more. No, seriously. It takes one TINY squirt of shaving cream to give you a nice surface for writing or drawing. Any more, and you just get mountains. You can see in the first picture up there that Bethany had mountains, and she wasn’t really a fan of how it felt on her hands.
  • -Think about the surface you’ll be using. I have oilcloth on my table all the time, but you could also use a vinyl tablecloth. Alternatively, you could put the shaving cream on a metal cookie sheet, which would be easy enough to wash off in the bathtub.
  • -Have warm, wet rags nearby so that your kiddos can wipe their hands as often as necessary.
  • -This is not an activity I recommend for times when you need to keep your kids occupied while you do something else. It’s too easy for them to wipe shaving cream in their eyes, or to smear huge globs of it somewhere it shouldn’t be. Ask me how I know

Shaving cream writing practice

Once the girls had spent some time just playing in the shaving cream and smearing it everywhere, I tried doing a little bit of writing practice with Bethany. She is occasionally interested in writing letters, so that’s what we did. Here, you see my ‘D’ on the right, and hers on the left.

Shaving cream is excellent for this, because you can immediately erase any mistakes and make corrections. It’s also easy to do some hand-over-hand work, particularly on the harder letters, like ‘N.’

Shaving Cream sensory activity

This was a surprise – I looked over, and Clara had made a ‘D,’ too. Then, she lost interest and went back to flinging shaving cream off her hands.

{By the way, I used to do this in the classroom. First, I’d give out one small squirt of shaving cream per kid, and then allow a bit of a free play time. We’d then practice sight words or spelling words. You could also use it for basic letters and numerals, geometric shapes, parallel/perpendicular/intersecting lines, types of angles – you get the idea. When you’re done, wiping the shaving cream from the desks also cleans them. You will want to make sure you can send your students immediately to the bathroom when you’re finished so that they can wash hands. As a bonus, your classroom will smell like a barbershop.}

Shaving cream sensory activity

Now, let me reiterate that ordinarily I would have let that be the end of our shaving cream fun for the day. Since today was spectacularly awesome (haha), we kept going. Next, I gave the girls some of their plastic animals to use. I started with the ones most likely to live in the snow, but eventually just gave them each a bunch to help make a snowy scene.

Shaving cream arctic snowscape activityIf you were aiming for accuracy, you could plan in advance, find animals specific to the habitat you’re studying, and talk about the sorts of landforms you might see in the area. We just had fun putting animals in the ‘snow.’

sensory activities for preschool

Finally, we did some color mixing. Before you accuse me of insanity, you should know that I did think I’d taken leave of my senses before we were done with this. This is the sort of thing better done outside, or after you’ve covered your children with large tarps. We did neither of those things, and survived, but there was a big mess involved.

Basically, I squirted shaving cream into three cups of a half-dozen-sized muffin tin. (I bought this at the dollar store, and use it for activities exclusively. That way, my muffins don’t taste like shaving cream.) Then, we squirted food coloring into each, making them the primary colors. Here’s a helpful hint: I have no idea how you actually do this and get red. I can only imagine it would take entire bottles of food coloring. The best we could get was sort of a dark orange.

Shaving cream color mixing activity

From there, we scooped the colors together in the empty cups to make the secondary colors. This was a LOT of fun, even though our colors were a little bit off. While we did make a lovely mint green, our purple looked like brown, and our orange was not terribly distinguishable from our red.

I think if I were to do this again, I’d stop while I was ahead, let them admire the pretty colors in the muffin tin, and then rinse it out. Instead, I foolishly told the girls they could ‘paint’ with the dyed shaving cream. From there, I ended up with red-dyed skin, ruined clothes, and something close to a migraine. There are no pictures, thank goodness.

In all seriousness, we had a blast. I had all of these materials on hand, and all of it was inexpensive enough that I was more than willing to just let them do what they wanted. If you’re wary of a messy sensory activity for preschoolers, a little bit of shaving cream on a safe surface is a good place to start, and then the fun that you have – never mind the kids – will probably convince you to give something else a try.