You’ve likely heard of STEM activities which incorporate learning across Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics. When we talk about STEAM activities we add the Arts into this mix. In this case we learned about science principles like absorbtion and saturation through creative play! The bonus is that both my 2.5 year old and 8 year old were able to enjoy it at their own level!
I didn’t exactly plan this activity out before hand, it kind of came about by chance while painting with my son. My original plan was to create some watercolour artwork that I could use to make Valentine’s cards to mail to Grandparents & Great Grandparents. Now, I am kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl by nature when it comes to activities. I pride myself on being able to whip up a quick activity on a whim whether it is to entertain my own kids or in the classroom. In this case, when the page was full of colour but my toddler wasn’t ready to end the fun, I just went with it…and it turned out to be awesome!
Exploring With Watercolours – Process Art With My Toddler
When my son had painted every inch of his paper, he started to paint on the tray underneath. He used the brush to dip in the watercolours and spread it across the tray, watching it bead up after each swipe. He “painted” the tray for a little while before I had the idea to add some paper towel to the mix. Yep, just plain old paper towel from right there in the kitchen! I placed it on the tray and watched the “woooah” reaction from my son as it soaked up all the little drops of colour! Then he filled up the rest of the paper towel by holding the brush in each spot and watching the colour spread. When my 8 year old stepdaughter came the next day and saw the finished product, she said it looked “so cool” and asked if she could do it too! I decided to add a few different elements when I set it up for her to make it even more like a “science experiment”
When I set up the activity again for my 8 year old, I decided to cut the paper towel into heart shapes, and then I also cut some heart shapes out of wax paper. (You could do any shape, but I chose to stick with the Valentine’s theme, because I think we could all use a little extra love these days!) I spread them across the tray and then set up the watercolours with a paint brush and a pipette. The first heart she tried to paint was the wax paper. She looked at me confused when the water beaded up, then she added more and watched it roll right off. Then she tried the paper towel and had the same “woooah” reaction her brother had as she watched the colour spread out and cover the heart. The cool part about cutting them into shapes like the hearts is that the colour will spread until it stops at the edges of the shape, which is seriously satisfying to watch…even for adults!
She spent the next half hour experimenting with dipping the hearts into the watercolours, sandwiching the paper towels and wax paper hearts, squeezing the colour out, adding clear water, testing out different papers, and then eventually laying them all out to dry. Some of the language we used while we talked about her results were absorb, repel, concentration, dilution, & saturation.
What We Used
- Diluted Liquid Watercolours/Food Colouring
- Paint brush
- Paper Towel
- Wax Paper
- Regular Paper
We had so much fun with this activity, and I KNOW it is one that we’ll be repeating! I hope you all love it just as much!
Be inspired to play always.