What’s better than playing with shaving cream and water? It doesn’t get much more fun for kids. This “science experiment” is a great way to hold your child’s attention while working on skill development without them even knowing. The best part is that you most likely already have all of the necessary ingredients in your home.
Large clear container
Optional: Squirt bottle, pipette/eye dropper, paper
First, you want to choose a clear container that is large enough to hold at least 6 cups of water. The more water in the container, the better it is for you to watch the “rain.” Have your child help scoop and/or pour water into the large container. Working against the resistance of the water will help give them proprioceptive input to their arm joints, which in turn helps improve their body awareness or knowing where they are in space.
Once you feel there is enough water, it’s time to move on to the shaving cream. After you demonstrate how to hold and depress the shaving cream can, give your child some time to try to motor plan and figure out how to hold the shaving cream can on their own. Using their index finger or thumb will help increase their finger strength needed to depress the top for shaving cream to squirt out onto the water in the container. One word of caution, try to get the shaving cream to lie on a short, thin layer on the water rather than large piles. This will help the “rain” go through the clouds faster and down into the water. Kids usually benefit from a verbal countdown when squeezing the shaving cream so they don’t get too carried away.
Then, the fun part… squeeze some food coloring (the dark colors show up better and brighter) on top of the shaving cream and enjoy! The food coloring will slowly move through the shaving cream clouds and disperse into the water, looking somewhat like a lava lamp. Just watching the colors in the water can be very calming for kids. Let them try out different colors and see what happens to the water and shaving cream. Be sure not to shake the container with water (until the end if your kids want) because the lava lamp effect will quickly go away when this happens as all colors mix together.
Fine Motor Adaptations:
This activity already has many finger strengthening opportunities embedded in it – squeezing shaving cream and food coloring – but be sure to prompt your child to use a digital grasp (using fingerpads opposed to thumb) rather than a gross grasp (fisted in palm) to squeeze the items.
Use a water bottle for your child to squeeze more “rain” water on top of the clouds at the end to watch the shaving cream melt away.
Depending on your child’s age, pair watching the rain coming through the clouds with singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song while doing the finger movements to address fine motor manipulation and dexterity.
Gross Motor Adaptations:
Try completing each step of the activity in a different body position to address core strength and stability. Stand on one foot to squeeze the food coloring, seated criss-cross applesauce without support when squeezing the shaving cream, stand in tall kneel (knees on the floor with bottom off of feet) to watch the food coloring move through the clouds.
You can also have your child do a head inversion (feet apart with head looking under legs) to watch the “rain” move through the clouds. This will provide them with a different perspective and some vestibular “movement” input with their head below their hips.
Let your child put some shaving cream on a hard surface, such as a cookie sheet or table, and allow them to move the tactile input around. Encourage using their index finger to draw shapes, letters, or words, depending on your child’s developmental level. Having them squirt water and wipe up the mess with towels also helps provide them with a “heavy work” opportunity to receive that proprioceptive input through their joints once again.
Ask your child to draw a picture of clouds with rain before completing the activity. Or, print off a free cloud/rainy day coloring sheet for them to copy when drawing or color as a “warm-up” to using their hands for the shaving cream task.
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