Clubhouse Painting, Just Add.. Gum?

The easel is always a popular spot at the Clubhouse. New paintings are frequently being added to the drying table outside, and then eventually making their way onto classroom walls or parent refrigerator doors. Since we have so many budding artists, I have decided to introduce a new "paint recipe" weekly so we can explore different textures, colors and even scents!

First week, painting with Epsom Salt. I just so happened to have a bag full of it back from the days where I did Pilates twice a week, and Zumba on weekends. Really, what  was I thinking? I have since decided that chasing children all day is more than enough exercise for me. Anyways, I digress.

Epsom Salt, 2 cups.

Hot Water, 2 cups.

Food coloring, just a few drops.

I combined the epsom salt and hot water, and then distributed the paint mixture into different cups, coloring them all differently. The mixture was warm when I added it to the Art table, but not hot, of course.

Speaking of the Art table, I set up some heavy card stock paper, different sizes and colors. Glue sticks. Crayons. Chalk. Markers. They went to work right away, as they often do when they see they are using glue sticks!

As they glued and colored, I introduced the paint mixture...

and then things got really exciting.

The epsom salt I used was scented, and a minty scent immediately filled the classroom. The kids LOVED this. 

"This paint smells like gum!!"

"This paint smells like toothpaste!!

They grabbed their brushes and dipped in, immediately noticing all of the chunky salt pieces in the paint. I probably could have heated the paint mixture longer to dilute the salt, but I wanted them to see and feel the texture differences as they painted. Trying to get as much salt on their paint brushes as they could, they completely saturated their papers. (Which is what I thought would happen, and why I used the heavier card stock paper.)

Digging to the bottom of their paint cups to collect all the salt chunks on their paintbrushes, they carefully balanced as much salt as they could to get it onto their papers. Inhaling with every paint stroke, they kept talking about things that smelled similar to this new paint they were using. Spreading the salt all around their papers they commented on how it made noise as they painted, the salt rubbing on the paper.

I love any activity that engages different senses, and this one was a winner indeed, with 4 out of 5 senses actively engaged. Surprisingly, although it smelled like it might be delicious, no one attempted to engage the fifth sense. Yay! You just have to love that breakthrough age, where not everything goes into the mouth anymore ;)

Sidenote: The toothpaste comment did allow us the opportunity to get into a conversation about brushing our teeth (dental health lesson bonus!)

Once the papers were officially and entirely covered, we took them outside to the drying table, and talked about what we thought they might look like once they were dry. They kept running to the table checking on the pictures, noticing how they changed as they dried. Looking at them, touching them, smelling them...

"It's getting shiny!"

"It doesn't smell anymore!" (This was a very disappointing discovery.)

"It feels like sand!"

"It's turning WHITE!!" (This was a very exciting discovery.)

In the end, painting with epsom salt was a success. The paintings did end up drying very white, as you can see from this one painted by my Son, who insisted we hang it in the kitchen. 

The crystals and the "shine" don't come through very well in the photo, but his excitement about his creation definitely came through as he exclaimed to his Daddy, "I painted with GUM!!!"  

I think I'll soak in the leftovers,

Ms. Liz

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