Shaving cream – not just for Dad’s face anymore! At least not at Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group, where we put the foamy stuff to work in easily erasable, sadly irreplaceable temporary table art. One minute you’ve got a masterpiece, the next minute you’ve got a cleared, clean tabletop. Not everything was so easily erased – The work may have been temporary, but the scent of shaving cream hung in the air for the full hour.
So you might be asking, if the work is so quickly wiped away, why bother with shaving cream art? Well, as it is in most of the Art Group activities, the tactile input is the key player in this process. You’d be amazed by what very young children can learn by simply experiencing new sensations with their hands. We begin cognitively processing things like shape, size, color, and volume at a very young age (without need to specifically quantify), so using our hands to mess about with different substances is a great way to shape our senses’ understanding. This is one of fundamentals of fingerpainting, and it applies to shaving cream art as well. By using our fingers to spread, draw in, and wipe away the substance, we learn about its basic properties – its weight, density, and opacity.
Plus, it’s so fun! The shaving cream is light and easy to spread, so even very young children will have no issues manipulating it on the table. Try to use a surface that will work with the height of your children. It’s easier for very small children to fully experience the hands-on nature of the activity if they are able to access more of the table.
A word on clean up: You can choose to cover your tabletop with clear plastic wrap or even thin craft tarp, but because the cream is so easy to wipe away (and leaves no sticky residue or paint stains) we chose to go without any table coverings. If you do so, be sure to have two cloths readily available – one damp and one dry.
Want to increase the fun? Add tools into the mix. Simple stamping tools can encourage detailed drawings in the shaving cream. Tools with forked edges or other forms of ridges can add an interesting texture or pattern, and spongey paint rollers make it easy to wipe away portions of the shaving cream. Almost anything can be used, so use your imagination and whatever you may have handy.
Don’t feel like this is an activity only meant for very young children. Children older than three can still have fun with shaving cream art. If they’re not interested in drawing pictures on the tabletop, try playing games like Tic Tac Toe or writing exercises, like having them write all the letters of the alphabet or all the numbers up to 20.
One more tip: Have a camera handy to take pictures of any artwork your little one may have become attached to. Its virtually impossible to preserve any shaving cream pictures, but sometimes photographic mementos are enough.
Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.