Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Experiment #3: Puffy Fingerpaint

I love shopping with my dad.

I think I just heard an audible gasp from everyone who has ever met either my dad or me. I am pretty sure that the only time the words “love” and “shopping” are uttered together in a sentence by either of us is to say, “I love it when the stores are closed and there is no possible way I can go shopping.” I just really hate shopping and so does my dad.
But shopping with my dad is awesome for two reasons:

  1. We have the same attention span for shopping (30 minutes max).
  2. We shop by feel.

The three times I have gone shopping with my dad, he would come back to the dressing room with a small pile of clothes - none of them matching (or even distantly coordinating), but all soft, smooth or silky. I like my clothes to look good, but I really like them to feel good.

I'm just a highly tactile person.  I like to knead dough, work with clay, walk barefoot, twirl my hair, wiggle in the sand, and play in the dirt. I have apparently passed this obsession on to my daughter. So at our house, we try to do lots of "hands-on" activitites.

Tactile stimulation is more than just a way to occupy a preschooler's time. It is now being recognized as a legitimate therapeutic treatment with exceptional benefits for everyone from preemies to Alzheimer patients. Modeling letters out of clay is used as a treatment for dyslexia. It has even been suggested that since serotonin, a brain chemical linked to depression, is more present when an individual is active, even fine motor movements can improve mood and combat depression (B.L. Jacobs, Princeton University).

Enter puffy fingerpaint - as fun to touch after it dries as it is to paint with. I would like to say that I created this recipe myself, but I owe it all to the "Kid Concoctions" demonstration that re-aired daily on PBS kids broadcasts during the highly annoying public television member drive. I usually hate member drives, but I feel I can now no longer poo-poo this dreaded annual event.

Time to Completion: 5 minutes with kids.

Cost Comparison;
  • Store bought fingerpaint costs anywhere from $4.50 to $15.00, depending on brand and amount.
  • Homemade fingerpaint costs $1.00 - $2.00 for 4oz glue bottle, $1.50 for the shaving cream and a few cents for the food coloring (a couple drops go a long way) and glitter. One glue bottle will make 8 -10 cups of paint on average. As for the shaving cream...well, I'm still on my first can and have made at least 20 cups with no end in sight...
Bottle of washable school glue
Foaming shaving cream (we use Barbasol)
Cups for the different paint colors
Something to stir with
Food coloring (optional)
Glitter (optional)
Surface for painting (windows, paper, skin, etc)
Measuring spoon (optional)

You have two things you need to know to make puffy fingerpaint: dump and mix. Dump the shaving cream, dump the glue onto the shaving cream, dump in a couple drops of food coloring and/or glitter and mix. That's it. 

The first time I made puffy fingerpaint, I just dumped and mixed. It worked just fine. Subsequent times, I have experimented with the ratio of glue to shaving cream.

My favorite ratio has been 3 shaving cream : 1 glue.  I find that tends to keep the puff around after it dries the best without making it too tacky. But you can experiment to find what you like. Generally I end up making 3 rough tablespoons of shaving cream to 1 tablespoon of glue for each color. That makes more than enough to last a play session. Usually we have lots left over. If you put the leftovers in a sealed container (or plastic wrap it), you can keep it around for the next day and possibly up to a week (depending on the ratio of shaving cream to glue) before it disintegrates.

Nora has as much fun with the paintings after they are dry as doing the painting. The paint dries satiny smooth and is really fun to "pet."

A few hints:
Paint on a window!
  • General rule of consistency: more shaving cream = puffier; more glue = tackier
  • If kids paint their layers too thick, it can take up to a week to dry. If you can keep the puff to under about 1/4 inch, you'll probably have the best results
  • Keep everything out of eyes. It is shaving cream, so it wouldn't feel good.
  • We've been using washable "food coloring" that came in a kid project kit. However, we have used regular food coloring and the darker colors can leave some light staining on skin. It usually comes out by the next day with some good scrubbing. If this worries you, just leave the color out or use glitter instead. Anyway you choose, it's still fun.
  • Our favorite puffy paint surface is the full length window on the door leading out to the deck. It wipes right off and Nora gets a kick out of painting on the house. She also loves painting her arms and legs, or even better, Grandpa's head. 

Sorry for all the pictures this time - I got a little camera happy!

Coming up next: Homemade Feta cheese

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! Sunshine wants to add that it makes great Snowman pictures in the winter, too. :)