Exploratory Art for Kids. Squirty Foaming Paint

Aug 3, 2014

Are you following us on Pinterest?

These days, the latest thing for disposable soap dispensers is "foaming soap." It's actually a pretty good idea (especially when kids are using them) as the dispenser has a built in foaming thing (ok, don't ask me what it's actually called) that adds air to the soap as it comes out and makes it all frothy. It means that you end up using less soap than you might have needed otherwise. Excellent.
I wondered, if we put paint into the empty foaming soap dispensers, would the paint also froth up going through the frothy part? We had to experiment! Combining art and science is a lot of fun.

Through some trial and error, we discovered that you did still need a soapy solution with the paint in order to get it to froth well. We found that different quantities of soap/paint/water gave different types of foam. We used this activity to experiment, explore density and viscosity, talk about colours, colour mixing, develop hand muscle strength, use our senses, do printing, make pictures, work on oral language and vocabulary, etc.

Ages: 2+
(See the bottom for handy tips to make the activity work best for your child.)

  • Empty foaming soap dispenser bottles
  • Paint (we used our favourite easy wash paint from our sponsors, Micador. You could also use food dyes but be sure to only use a small amount to avoid staining. The soap should help with this)
  • Dish-washing liquid (or hand soap)
  • Water
  • Plastic tub (optional but recommended as squirting paint can get a little messy)
  • Paper
In to the bottles I added a squirt of dish-washing liquid, a squirt of paint and a little bit of water to thin it down a bit. There is no exact recipe needed for this, just play around with it. The more water, the foamier it was, but the less vibrant the colour.
With my 2.5 y/o son I used just 2 colours. This was so that we could add in some basic colour mixing and talk about that. I presented the invitation to him with a piece of blank paper at the bottom of a plastic tub and the 2 coloured squirty foaming paint bottles at either end.

He discovered that the pump dispenser was harder to push down than when it just has the soap in it. We talked about density here and how the paint mixture was "thicker" than the regular soap mixture. He often needed 2 hands to push the pump down properly, developing hand muscle strength as he played.

The frothy foaming paint was intriguing and required further investigation. What made it frothy like that? 

Using a tub was great as it meant that he could pick up the tub and let the foaming paint slide around the paper, creating different patterns.

As the paint was getting lower, we added more water to see the difference. We ended up with a frothier paint but less vibrant colours. This also changed the viscosity of the paint. As it came out thicker, it slid and moved differently on the paper.

He asked for a paintbrush to swirl the foaming paints together. We observed that the lighter yellow did not help to transform any of the blue paint into green paint.

Remembering the mono-printing we did when we painted with a cardboard comb, he tried creating some masterpieces that way.

It was interesting seeing the difference in the foaming paint from wet to dry and the different effects some of the bubbles left behind.

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity for younger children who've yet to develop the hand muscle strength and are struggling to squirt the paint out, by squirting blobs out for them and letting them swirl the foamy paints around.

- Extend this activity by allowing children to mix their own quantities of dish soap, paint and water to test the different types of foaming paint made. Ask children, what mixture makes the thickest foam/runniest foam/most vibrantly coloured foam paint? etc. Do you need more/less water? Experiment!

- Get well set up before you start painting with little kids. It's when you have to race off to grab a damp cloth or similar that things can quickly go from a controlled mess to an outright mess, so be prepared before you start by having cleaning supplies like a damp cloth and toweling paper at the ready.

Talk with your child about what they are doing and ask them questions. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it. While children are being creative and focused,  it can be a great time to talk about sensitive issues and their feelings.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "squirt," "foaming," "thick," "runny," "bubbly" etc. This will help with their language development.

- Still feeling creative? Here are some of our other arty ideas for kids. 

Happy creating,
Debs :)

Look where else we are. Are you following along? :)
New Here? Subscribe to get all activities sent directly to you
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner