# Category Archives: Recipes – Nonedible

## Book Activity: Moosetache

I have a penchant for books that are just plain silly, both in premise and in the delivery (rhymes, alliterations, and made-up words – all great for phonemic awareness).  Moosetache by Margie Palatini is that kind of book.  In this story, a moose is tormented by his unruly and prolific mustache.  His problems are finally solved when he meets the moose of his dreams and she introduces him to a special pot of glue she uses to tame her own crazy locks.

Margie Palatini uses an unconventional style of wordplay, not exactly your sing-songy and predictable rhythm you find in many children’s books, but a fantastic blend of rhyme and alliteration with words that often streak across the page, almost defining the meaning through word art.  It’s a unique and enjoyable book for all ages!

The Secret Recipe

After reading this story, I like to have children mix up some of  their own very special “goop”, like the one in the book.  We make paste by mixing 1 part water and 2 parts flour along with a little bit of salt -a pinch or a few teaspoon depending upon the size of your batch.  I think I used a teaspoon of salt with my batch that had 2 cups of flour.  The salt helps keep the mix from becoming moldy after it’s been used on a project.  For me, that’s a good reason to remember the salt!  (Find more details on making homemade paste here.)  You can determine how large or small to make your batch.  Perhaps you want to make one big batch with a group of children all taking turns mixing and scooping.  Maybe you’d like to give each child a chance to mix his or her own batch in a smaller cup.  Just keep everything in the 1:2 ratio.

There are a lot of ways to use this as a fun math activity to do with your children! Explore ratios and even multiplication by mixing one Tbsp of water and two of flour in a small container, and then in another bowl, placing two Tbsp of water and asking your children how many Tbsp of flour you should add.  You could also use a variety of measurement tools to explore volume.  Mix one batch in the 1:2 ratio using cups and another using tablespoons.

Tame the Mane

Once you’ve mixed up the paste, you can pull out some string, twine, or yarn, some child scissors, and some colored paper, and let the children go to work, cutting and gluing to their own design, creating an experience similar to that of the two moose trying to style their hair.

Now this would probably fall under the “random art projects” category.  Many people are uncomfortable with these projects because they don’t end up with “something”, but the children really get into it, selecting their own color of construction paper, their own color(s) of yarn, and deciding exactly what to do with it.  Some even cut up the edges of their papers and add that to the paste as well!  You really have to consider the Spectrum of Preschool Arts and Crafts here.  Think about the objectives and learning opportunities that have come into play.  The children are getting tons of fine motor practice as they are able to cut with scissors and manipulate the string, placing it into the paste they have brushed into place.  They see how the paste works (and they love that they made that paste themselves).  You can introduce math concepts and compare lengths as they cut the string and talk about “longer” and “shorter”.  You can explore the geometric concept of a line, as well as art concepts, as you talk about straight lines, wavy lines, and spiraling lines.

The children may create free-form, abstract art, or some may ask for crayons to draw a face and create a mustache just like the moose in the book.  They key to real creativity in this instance is to let them decide what to do with those materials.  Letting go and giving opportunities for true free art can really build a child’s self-esteem, avoid frustration burn-outs, and on top of it all, you just might be surprised at what they come up with when you give them a little more control over their projects!  We grown-ups aren’t the only ones with good ideas!

## This Could Be the Safest Finger-Paint Ever

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.)

Cornstarch Finger-Paint

3 Tbsp sugar

½ cup cornstarch

2 cups cold water

Coloring

Liquid Soap

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.

## Bev Bos’ Secret to Successful Shaving Cream Art

I do enjoy Bev Bos!  That woman is in a league of her own!  Well, it’s thanks to Bev that I’ve learned the secret to great shaving cream painting!  In the past, I’ve had children paint with colored shaving cream, and they’ve had a great experience, but unless they spread the foam out, once that foam’s dry, it all seems to fall apart.  Enter Bev.  Her big secret is to add equal parts Elmer’s glue and shaving cream and whip them together.  Then add your color and you’re good to go!

One of the best kinds of fingerpaints ever!  (Great with brushes too for the mess-avoidant child.)  You can add glitter right to it, or let the little ones sprinkle it on top.  It’s still fragile after it dries, but it does hold it’s shape- and the sparkles- much better than shaving cream alone!

It’s a great sensory activity, creative activity, and small motor activity.  And really, it’s just plain fun!  Who can walk past a pot of colorful foam and not want to join in?  And as I look at these projects, and think of Bev Bos, I’m reminded of her statement, “children have to use too much”.  It’s not a judgemental statement, it’s a reminder of the exuberance with which they approach art.  So be prepared to supply them with “too much” of your art supplies!  In fact, I’ve learned that when given a shaker of glitter, the typical child will empty it entirely onto one piece of paper.  It doesn’t really seem to matter whether the shaker had .8 oz or 18 oz!  So I now use a smaller amount in the shakers (or smaller shakers) and refill them if needed for the next child.  That way, each child can have the satisfaction of emptying the container!  ♥

## Fruity Scented Kool-Aid Playdough

I love cinnamon scented playdough, which I listed here, but I also love the fruity scent of Kool-Aid scented playdough!  Adding an extra appeal to the senses could hardly be easier!  Start with the Classic Playdough Recipe.  Add a packet of Kool-Aid to the water before adding it to the pan.  Ta-da!  Simple, right?  Now, if you already have a batch of playdough made up, you can also knead the powder right into the dough.  It takes a bit of time to get it mixed through, but because it hasn’t been cooked, the scent may actually be stronger that way.  Just be sure that the powder has been worked in completely.  You may even want to let it sit overnight to be sure that the powder has been fully absorbed.

I recently kneaded some grape Kool-Aid (OK, it was Flavor-Aid, I’m a cheap skate!) into some leftover glitter playdough.  The color intensified and the smell was fantastic!  Some of the children even watched the transformation and were excited by it, asking for more Kool-Aid to mix into other playdough batches.

Adding a scent to your playdough takes a tactile sensory activity and adds another sense, making it multi-sensory.  It is appealing to the children, literally inviting the children to come explore as the scent wafts across the room!  It is also a great way to extend a familiar activity.  In addition to sensory development, playdough play enhances creativity and fine motor strength.

More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!

## Paint You Can See…Smell…and Feel!

If you’d like to incorporate a few more senses into your painting projects, add some regular salt generously to your tempera paint and use as fingerpaint or with a brush.  The resulting project will have a bit more texture and grit that becomes even more visible as it dries.  Use side by side with “regular” paint for a great texture comparison.  This will spark interest as well as encourage the use of new vocabulary words like bumpy, gritty, sandy, smooth, etc.  (If you’re not fingerpainting, you might want to use your older brushes for this one, as the salt tends to get into the bristles a bit.)

The next day you can add another sense to the activity as you make your paint scented!  Just add a packet of Kool-Aid to the container of paint!  I actually added to the salty paint I had left over for a combined experience.  (Do be cautious, as the Kool-Aid seems to make the paint a bit frothy.  It can overflow, albeit slowly!)  The Kool-Aid adds a fruity scent while also intensifying the colors (which may also affect the washability, depending on the product).

Making your art activities multi-sensory makes them more appealing, while also enhancing the senses and building language skills as the children are bound to talk about the differences they’ve observed!  Painting in general also builds creativity and fine motor control and strength.

So try something new with paint you can see, smell, and feel….I suppose you could also add hear if you add some music….though I wouldn’t recommend tasting, at least not with this salty Kool-Aid concoction!

More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!

## Scented Playdough–Cinnamon Spice!

If you want great scented playdough, that smells like an actual, natural food scent, try this one out!  It’s probably my favorite scented playdough, in large part because it makes your whole room smell like a bakery!  In fact, you’ll have to remind your children that in spite of the great scent, it is still not for eating!

Incorporating scented playdough engages the sense of smell along with the tactile experience of traditional playdough, making it a multi-sensory activity.  The added scent also enhances the dramatic play themes that often work their way into playdough activities, as children may begin making apple pie, cinnamon rolls, or their favorite cake.  Additionally, playdough enhances creative and small motor skills.

Cinnamon Spice Playdough

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

4 tsp cream of tartar or alum

5 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

2 cups water

2 Tbsp. oil

(Food coloring if desired.  I like to leave it a natural cinnamon color.)

Combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan.  Add the water and oil and mix well.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and form a stiff ball.  Remove from heat and knead when cooled enough to handle.  Store in a ziplock bag when cooled to keep from drying.

Feel free to play with this recipe and make it your own!  In fact, please let us know here how you were able to make it better!

Here are other playdough posts you may be interested in:

Glitter Playdough

Classic Playdough Recipe

Playing Around with Playdough

Photo courtesy of YappsCotta.

## Bubble Paint

For the truly brave preschool teacher or parent, looking for a creative art project, I present bubble painting!!  This can be a messy project, but very unique and with many opportunities for developmental growth.  Directions first, benefits later.

First, take your standard tempera paint and water it down a bit more than usual and add some dish soap.  Place it in a fairly shallow dish, such as a small pie tin, and use a straw to bubble up the mix until the bubbles pile on top.  Place a sheet of paper on top of the bubbles and press down until the paper is resting on the paint container.  Lift up the paper and you’ll see the prints left by the bursting bubbles!  You really do need to practice this yourself first, to be sure you have the right paint consistency and the right container.  Some containers just seem to spill over more easily and others never seem to build the right amount of bubbles on top.  So practice ahead of time.

As you can probably guess, this activity takes a bit more teacher involvement than say, a playdough art activity.  You need to make sure the children wear smocks, first of all.  Next, you need to make sure that each child gets a new straw, and that each straw is thrown away after use.  Particularly this time of year, and even more so this year, you do not want children sharing straws!  I’ve tried labeling them in the past so that children who leave the activity can come back again later, but it turns into too much of a headache.  I would recommend just chucking each one after use.

When the children begin the activity, remind them that they are not sucking the paint up like a drink, they are blowing bubbles, like when they bubble up their milk.  Remind them to do it gently so that it doesn’t just spray all over, but so that it bubbles.

Be ready for messes with plenty of rags, and keep in mind that as long as they are not being intentional or destructive in their messes, making a mess (and learning to clean it up) is just part of the learning process and not something to be scolded.

I like to do this activity in the fall as I talk about pumpkins because I think the end result looks a bit like a pumpkin patch.  You may also want to use it as part of an exploration of water or air, or while talking about self-care skills such as bathing.  You could also do this activity, using several different colors and making the prints one on top of the other for a really cool effect.

In addition to being a great creative activity, this project encourages scientific inquiry as the children explore the properties of bubbles.  The controlled blowing is also ideal for building oral motor strength and control which aides in articulation.

So smock up, grab some rags, and have some fun!