I recently had a teacher ask about art projects for the very young, particularly young two’s. She was especially concerned with the safety factor, as the little ones have a tendency to try to eat what they’re working with. I have a long list of suggestions for her, but I’ll share just one with you now!
The first project that came to mind was finger-painting! This finger-paint recipe is fantastic! It’s so easy and made from ingredients that are safe enough to eat — but it doesn’t taste great, so I doubt they’d try more than once. (Though as soon as I say that, some little child somewhere will eat an entire container of this like it was yogurt. Oh well, like I said, it’s safe.)
3 Tbsp sugar
½ cup cornstarch
2 cups cold water
Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a sauce pan. Add the water and mix well. Cook over med-low heat, stirring all the time, until thick, about 5 minutes. (To me, it looks almost like Vaseline.) Remove from the stove, cool, and pour into containers (muffin tins are great for a variety of colors). Add a little food coloring or liquid watercolors to each cup and then a drop or two of soap to help with the washability. (Liquid watercolors are ideal, as they are more washable, though food coloring is pretty safe once it is fully mixed into the paint solution.) Mix well and paint when cool! If making the night before, store in the refrigerator.
One thing I like to do with this recipe is to make it without any color, and put about 1/4 a cup or so in plastic bags. Then I let the children mix in the color by working the *well-sealed* bag. It’s particularly exciting to let the children choose two primary colors and mix it all together until a secondary color is formed.
Finger-painting can be done on paper plates, poster board, or art paper. For many young children, however, finger-painting is about the experience and exploration, not about making something to be displayed on a refrigerator or bulletin board. So you may even want to do finger-painting right onto art trays or the table top. If you do finger-painting on a table top or tray, you can always do a reverse print by pressing paper onto the paint and lifting it again to reveal the design!
This is a great creative sensory activity, while also working fine motor skills. And if they happen to lick their fingers. No problem!
Top photo by NecoGarnica.