Shaving Cream Art: A lesson in what not to do.

I’ve been seeing some art lessons lately that feature shaving cream as a suspension for watercolor paints. This type of printing project looks like a good deal of fun and to be honest, was curious to see how it would turn out. I read a few basic instructions but essentially, the idea is to fill a tray (I used large aluminum foil trays) with shaving cream and squirt dribbles of liquid watercolor paints onto the surface. The watercolor is then stirred into the shaving cream to achieve swirls of color. By placing a piece of paper directly on top of the shaving cream and pressing down slightly, the watercolor paint, in it’s suspended form, stains the paper. The result is a pretty cool piece of paper.

My plan was to have each of my four kinder classes create their own “swirls” and then place their paper on top of the swirls to create the desired effect. This would be the background of a project I would later do.

I placed two trays on each of my five tables. Yup. 10 trays. 4 kids at a table.  I proceeded to fill the bottoms of each tray with shaving cream.  This is where my planning fell through. By the fifth can, I had only filled 3/4 of my trays. I had 3 cans left. This project uses ALOT of shaving cream. I had to use all of my alotted shaving cream for just one class. Putting aside my concerns for what the next class of kinders would do, I placed small containers of liquid watercolors on each table. My goal was to have the children drop the watercolors into the shaving cream, then swirl away. Nice idea in theory but truthfully, by the time the kids dropped in their watercolor selection, swirled with spoons and then dropped their paper into the foamy mess, all I could think about was that in 2 minutes, I was going to have twenty kids holding up foam-laden paper. Then what? Yikes. Quick thinking alowed me to set up a “wipe-off” station. I personally scraped off each paper, found a dry spot to add their names and called it a day. We didn’t even get to the second part of the lesson. I generally don’t panic, but I was seriously sweating here.

One rule of thumb I have for teaching art to kinders is that one must always be in control ( emotionally, organizationally, etc.) Anyone who teachers kinder art knows this. One unsure moment and bam! Chaos!

This is a great project for young kids but for art teachers in a classroom setting, the logistics can get a bit out of control.  Older kids would be fine. This one class achieved some pretty cool paper, but the problem was that I had planned for all four of my kinders to do the same lesson. Now I had no shaving cream left, and quite frankly, a really messy art room.

But we’re art teachers because we’re creative thinkers so I wiped down the tables, placed a stack of white paper on one of my back tables and when the next group lined up at the door, I had my plan.

The second group didn’t bother with the watercolor or the swirling. They simply advanced to step three and placed their papers on top of the shaving cream. Proceeding to the “wipe-off” table, we cleaned their paper and then the kids did free-choice until everyone completed their paper. This took about ten minutes. I allowed for about 5 minutes for clean-up and then we simple began part tow of our lesson: the drawings.

Two classes worked on beautiful red cardinals and the other one worked on winter trees. By the fourth class, I abandoned the shaving cream and substituted black paper for our snowmen. That lesson was featured here!

Worth it? Not really. I used up way too much of my precious liquid watercolors. I didn’t try using tempera paint or food coloring, but I heard it could work.This would make a great project if you had small classes, or worked with just a few children. It also would work if you used small pieces of paper and created only a few trays of cream. But it was fun and the classroom teachers and I laughed quite a bit at the mess.

Have you tried shaving cream art? Thumbs up or just not worth it? Weigh in and let’s here it!

What do you think?

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  • Jodi

    I did this with small (7-8) groups of kids with Autism. It was great, but we also had 7-8 kids with 4-5 adults! The food coloring is definately more cost effective, and the ‘neon’ colors look quite nice (I found them at WalMart). Maybe it would work better if you could get some parent volunteers to come in and help? You are very brave to try it with kinders, I had quite a mess just with my little groups (and no classes after them so I had lots of time to clean!). It is easier than actual marbeling with alum though. Older kids would do great with it, with much less instruction/hands on help needed. I also was sure to use dollar store shaving cream.

  • Amy

    I’m not a teacher – we just do lots of art at home and I am the “go to” volunteer for planning activities at kid events around here. I’ve done this more than once with my own kids and on my own, using a variety of paint types. All were successful but watercolor is my favorite. I would not do this one with a large group. It’s just too messy (and I don’t usually mind messy!). It’s a very cool effect but not worth that effort for a classroom.

    I love your blog and use it with my kids often. In a tough choice, my older son had to drop art as an elective this year so we have used your ebooks to give him an art fix here and there!

  • Christie

    Your account is hysterical!! I can totally empathize. There is nothing like that moment when you realize all is NOT going to go as you had planned — especially with kindergarteners!! You were brave to attempt the project with all of the kids. I have done something similar, but at one table where 1 group of kids rotated through the printing process with me while the rest were doing something else. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Izzy

      I can empathize also! Teaching kinders art is a genuine challenge which I happily take on, but a challenge nonetheless. Back to the shaving cream: I have done this in a small group setting at the alternative camp I work at in the summers. We are a very creative group of teachers and try to do “different fun crazy” activities. Shaving cream art definitely falls into that category! We used a very sturdy plastic table cloth over a wooden farm table. Each child had a 6×8 rectangle of shaving cream. We used acrylic craft paint and plastic forks to swirl. We had the kids wipe their own papers right into a large bucket of water, then rinse their hands in a separate bucket. Such fun! The finished product was made into stationary.

  • Anne

    I have used shaving cream mixed with liquid tempera and white glue to make “puffy paint”. The mixture is then spread like cake icing onto heavy paper using kraft sticks. It’s definitely a project for a small group. Kids love it! Last time I did it for about 50 campers (I had lots of help). I used 3 cans of shaving cream and emptying the cans nearly killed my “trigger” finger!

  • Deborah

    I have done this with a large group but I think the difference was that I was more focused on the process of the kids having fun with experimenting with the shave cream and mixing the colors than I was focused on having a beautiful design to see later. We actually added glue to the mixture too – this way we didn’t have to scrape of the excess but just leave it on and once it dried out it left a wonderful texture. I think with younger children they will mix and mix until all of the color is mixed together because mixing is what they enjoy the most. I highly recommend this process but not necessarily as an art project but more as a sensory experience. Here is one of our activities we tried… http://www.teachpreschool.org/2010/07/puffy-ice-cream-cones-in-preschool/

  • barb

    I have not had the pleasure of trying this with kindergarten in a classroom setting, but I admire your courage. (very hilarious, you were lucky to have survived).
    With older kids I’ve done it two ways…First way, make a one GIANT shaving cream print. To do this spread a layer of shaving cream directly onto the table top. Kids dropped and swirled watered down tempera paint into the foam. We then cut a piece of paper off the roll and printed. We used Barbisol from the Dollar store. The big piece can be cut and shared or you could place smaller sheets onto the big foam. (Scraping is optional and we opted not to scrape on the big piece).
    Second way I’ve tried with older kids is to make a tiny print. I made trays out of aluminum foil and cut the paper to fit the trays. I set up TWO (not ten!!!) tables. Each table had a printing station and a scraping station. One table was for warm colors. One table for cool colors. This worked well because kids could scrape off the top layer of foam and print again, or just add to the previous colors and nothing muddied up. It saved on shaving cream. We cut these, layered them with colored papers, made fancy cut edges, laminated, hole punched and tasseled them for some pretty banging bookmarks. Also good to cover those tiny folded books!
    In either case we were smelling very handsome for months after.

  • kathy

    I am sorry you didn’t have a good experience with shaving cream. I have done it with second grade and it went well. But I did do it as a center where they came to me while the others worked on something else. And I have heard you can cover and keep the shaving cream for the next class.
    I used thinned tempera. Cheap and easy.
    Again sorry it didn’t work for you but aren’t you glad you tried?

    • Patty

      Don’t get me wrong, it “worked” fine. Kids liked the experience but not enough that I would try it again. The art room, however, did end up smelling really nice!

  • countryfun

    Thanks for sharing a lesson with lots of adapting. It’s always good to know that not all lessons work out as planned, some can be changed on the fly and sometimes you just need to scrap it.
    As teachers, I think we sometimes forget it’s ok to have a lesson fail. I’m always telling the children to just try – it’s ok if it doesn’t work out. You often learn more from those experiences.
    Thank you so much for the instruction and inspiration you provide here.

  • Eleanor Vander Meulen

    I’ve been wanting to try this project…but been very hesitant for a couple of years. I’m thankful that YOU tried it out and shared your experience.lol! Thank you to all those that commented and shared their good experiences. I’m confident now and will feature it in my Brown Bag Art Club (lunchtime club). Can’t wait!

  • Brannan Lawson

    I too attempted the shaving cream project but I wasn’t brave enough to try with my kinders. I went with third grade which on the first day was chaotic. After a chaotic Monday lesson, my dreams were consumed with how to make it better and not so crazy. When Tuesday’s third graders walked in my room I was ready. I had two of my 8 tables as “scraping stations,” on the table there were two buckets of water and three styrofoam trays. I enforced how critical it was for them to listen to my directions because we were going to be doing different things at different times. Most of my tables have 3 to four students (no less than 2) at each table, which allowed my students to work in pairs. I had one tray for smaller tables and 2 for the larger groups. The student on the right was the first to use the shaving cream and watercolors. As they took their paper to the scraping station their shoulder partner on the left was to take the tray and wash it off. Allowing this to go faster and smoother, since there were a lot of steps. As they were washing it off the other person scraped the shaving cream off in a different area and went on placing their paper on the drying rack. Once the person in charge of cleaning the tray was done they took it back to their seat and did their paper. As they finished and went to the scraping station, their shoulder partner who just finished their paper took their tray and washed it. This allowed everyone to clean someone’s tray (which they seemed to enjoy). Let’s say Tuesday’s class and the rest of the week went as smooth as butter. Oh, and we wrote our names before hand and put our paper in a safe clean area near their tables not to mess it with shaving cream and watercolors to early. I hope this helps, because I know reading your blog about your lessons always helps me before jumping in blind.

    • Patty

      These are great tips! Shaving cream art is stunning and the process is fun, but it really helps to know what you’re getting into before embarking on this one! Thanks for the tips everyone!

  • Jenn

    I have done shaving cream printing with almost every one of my k-5 grades. This is something they love, but I do agree it is messy.

    When I do this lesson with 2nd(makes a great background for a starry night paintings,) I give each table two tray just as you did, how ever I only put about 1 &1/2 in of shaving cream in each tray(I prep all of this ahead of time and smooth them out.) I use watered down tempera paint in small squeezable bottles, or I give them tiny cups of watered down paint with popsicle stick to use to drop it on the shaving cream. This way they can’t go crazy with too much paint. After one student drop their paint on and swirls it with the back of a pant brush by only touching the top layer of shaving cream, they put their paper down and pull off their print. This is where I come in…. I come over and scrap that layer of painted shaving cream off. So the next student has a clean shaving cream surface to work with. I give the kids big squeegees and have them scrap the extra cream off of their prints. I have the kids designate a clean side of the table and a dirty this way all the shaving cream ends up in one spot for easy clean up. It is messy and my garbage cans look disgusting at the end of class but kids just love this!

    • Lynne

      I have done marblized Easter eggs using this technique for the past ten years. I set up eight to ten children at a time. I place a piece of fingerpaint paper on the table. I squirt enough to make the shaving cream about 1/2 ” thick and a bit bigger than a white cardstock paper egg. I let the Pre- kindergarten children choose three colors of liquid watercolors, which I drizzle on top of their shaving cream. They carefully stir the paint with a popsicle stick while I count to five. At five I place a piece of cardstock, egg design facing down, on top of the cream. The child can lift it up and lay it on my card table next to the barrel. I use a squeegee to wipe off the shaving cream and expose their marbled delight. When cardstock is dry we cut the eggs out, cut a zig zag “crack” to cut egg in half and hinge it with a paper fastener. A baby chick is drawn and glued to the bottom back half of the egg so as to appear that the chick is hatching as you open the top. This is a big hit with parents and children. Clean up is not bad I throw the fingerpaint paper away, though it also has the marbled design, so we sometimes use it for collages.

  • Oralea

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences… the good and the challenging!! I’m teaching art to 1st graders this year (my first year teaching!) and I seem to have many successful and “challenging” moments in a single day. What a roller coaster teaching can be! Your blog has been a great help and has provided much inspiration. Thank you!

  • artprojectgirl

    Thank you for saving me! I love this account too funny! I’ve totally been there.

  • naomi

    Ha! Loved reading this. We too used this project with our two youngest (4 and 7) and while it was fun, it was also a disaster from the adult’s viewpoint!

    Yikes !! What a mess! I didn’t know ahead of time just how to scrape the shaving cream, the paint didn’t sit nicely OR swirl appropriately …

    I don’t have any tips to share, but it’s good knowing someone else out there didn’t quite enjoy it as much as it looked like we should have!

    • janet

      To scrape off the shaving cream I use fake credit cards (the ones attached to the many applications sent to me) and used up gift cards. These seemed to be the perfect size for 1st grade hands.

  • ashley

    I have tried the shaving cream with a group of 10 year olds (summer program and only 12 in the class). I used tempera paint and we did it right on the table. very messy…decent results…but I don’t think I am brave enough to do it with a large class. I love your website!!!

  • Carey

    I do this almost every year and use the results for a sketch book cover and the other piece they make for a collage- Eric Carle style project. The ideal age is 2nd grade, but I’ve done it with Kinders too. I set up one station that I monitor while the other students work on a simple self directed project. I call up two students at a time to create their papers and have them write their name on it. I use restaurant style plastic trays or cookie sheets (shallow) to hold the shaving cream. It does use quite a bit of shaving cream, but I can usually get by on 2-3 cans per class of 24. I have had the best results with plain food colors. These are relatively cheap and I tell each student to only use 3 drops of each color (less if the shaving cream has lots of color already in it). I then let the student swirl with the wooden end of a paint brush, I tell them not to touch the bottom with the handle and only swirl on top. The students then place the sheet of paper ( I love Dick Blick’s All Media Paper, but any white sheet works) on the shaving cream and I monitor that it has made full contact. I pull it off and it looks like glop! But then the magic happens! I lay the piece on the table and squeegee it off with a piece of cardboard and it magically appears as marbled paper. I once tried to use a screen printing squeegee that I had in the studio, but that did not work nearly as well as the scrap cardboard or mat board. I scrap the excess shaving cream back into the tray and re use it. I reuse the same shaving cream all class long. If it starts to look too muddy, I just add a little bit of fresh shaving cream on top. I do change the shaving cream completely out in between classes, because I’ve found that it does dry up a bit after awhile and won’t print as well after about 40 minutes. Special bonus… the art classroom smells fresh and clean after the project and clean up is relatively simple if you have a sink in your room.

    I have also done this with my kids and the neighborhood kids one summer afternoon in the driveway. We just turned on the hose and sprayed everyone down, since it resulted in a shaving cream fight! I think the secret to this project is to set up one station that you can monitor, other wise it will be chaos. The others work on their project well because I only call the ones that are working and behaving. The kids want so bad to come up that I haven’t had any issues. My station is also set up so that I am facing the rest of the class, just in case ;).

  • Julie

    Hi, I have done this shaving cream printmaking a few times with my art class at an after school program. Two tools that made the process flow more smoothly are screen-printing scrapers and small shower squeegees.

    Because my club manager only bought 2 cans of shave cream, I had to make it stretch! I just put a little squirt down and then use the scrapers to smooth the cream out into a thinner layer – 1/2 inch thick or so. Then applied food coloring.

    The squeegees we used to scrape the cream off very cleanly. Obviously because of the cost, you wouldn’t want to have one for each kid.

    I liked on your project how you used watercolors and got a less vibrant print. The food coloring looked really psychedelic, but for your winter scene, I think the more muted colors worked awesomely!

    Kudos on a great blog!

  • Rebecca Conklin

    I just did this with a class of 20 kinders…..they all had a seat at their tables, making a city in the weather (snow, rain, rainbows, clouds) using chalk. (I needed an independent lesson, so my attention could be on the shaving cream table.) After I demo’d that lesson, they went to work at their tables and I asked 4 at a time to come to another table where I had 4 places each with a squirt of shaing cream right on the table, and decided to try using the old tempera powder paint that I have had forever. So, using their finger and my sprinkle of pdr paint on each pile of cream, they mixed it. I wrote their names on a 9 x 12 white constr. paper, they made their first print (pat, pat, pat! on the back, pick it up…Wow, so pretty, move to the red, pat, pat, pat, pick it up, wow! move to the blue….etc etc…) Each child’s original pile of colored cream was enough for a round-robin of 4 kids. I scraped off the excess with the popsicle stick I’d been using for the powdered paint. They went to wash, and another 4 came. It really worked well. They look so pretty, and I love the idea of using that printed paper as a background for the winter trees. Also was a good way to try to use up that powdered paint!!! Love this blog….thanks for maintaining it so creatively!!!

  • Susan

    Hi there,

    I have done this proces several times with my kinders. Just to give you an idea my small class of kinders are about 18 in a class no aides. I have 3 to 4 “experimental art” lessons going at one time. you know the ones where you add crushed cherios for sand, paint bubbles, shaving cream, spatter painting. I broke the class into 4 -6 stations. 3 or 4 of the process stations with clean up station and pre stations inbetween. It leaves each child working in rotaton Each step only takes 5 minutes for a child to get thru, so it fills the class time when you add clean up. After everythings drys, I have all of thier creations and we use them thru out the term in onter works of art.

    As far as the shaving cream station .Hand out paper with names on the back. I cover the table in pastic trash bags. Lay down a layer of shaving cream over the intire table. Let each child drop to drops of paint in the shaving cream and stir… the hold table becomes a large press. The children them find a section of the table to lay their paper on, lift and proceed to the clean up station. At teh end I gather all the trash bags up and throw the intire thing away. Simple clean up.

  • julie

    I’ve tried the shaving cream art…but used it only in a supervised station. Two kids at a time. They loved it. They would have liked to do it totally themselves, but I found it was much easier this way. I’ve used it as a border for Chinese banners and as decorative paper for making books.

  • Lucy

    I’ve done it with those small spray bottles (the kind that mist more than squirt). That way you don’t waste so much liquid watercolor. And after the kids scrape off the shaving cream with a piece of cardboard, we just put it back in the tray, smooth it (sort of!) and spray again. I separate warm and cool colors which helps them not get muddy.

    Thanks for your story. I totally get the importance of not panicking! Made me smile when I read it…. I’ve so been there!

    • Darlene

      I used foam trays, 1″ deep of shaving cream, 2″ tall spray bottles with 2 warm or 2 cool liquid watercolors, and a “bookmark” size piece of paper. While they were waiting, the kids wrote or drew a Mother’s Day message on one side of the paper. I came around with the tray and the kids laid the papers side to side, lightly pressed and pulled their bookmarks up. A swipe of the wet sponge and they put them on the drying rack. I had to refresh the tray 2-3 times per class.

      Very hectic day for sure. By the next class, I laminated the bookmarks and the kids added a ribbon. If you want the kids to be able to “explore” independently, I agree with the other posters who say it is more appropriate with older kids. My kinders were happy and proud. The projects looked great, but you definitely need to eat your Wheaties!

  • Patty

    I can’t believe how many of you have actually heard of shaving cream art let alone do it! Honestly, how did all these years go by and not realize what a popular project this is? Still not going to do it again, though!!!

  • Marianne Hirsch

    Wow!!! We are not allowed to use shaving cream at all!!! It’s all about allergies, and reactions to anything!!! Years ago we used to use shaving cream to write leters in etc. It was a great way to clean the tables on a Friday….but that was in the 80’s!!!!!

    • Patty

      I can totally see that! It’s probably something I shouldn’t use. Shaving cream does have a strong odor but not as toxic as some markers that are out there. I’m still surprised that I just learned of this apparently ancient technique!

  • Lauri

    I have used shaving cream successfully with kinders. I used heavy poster board paper cut down to 8 x 10. I also had lots wooden bamboo skewers handy.

    We talked about the primary colors, and mixing secondary ones.
    I demonstrated. Put a small amount of shaving cream in the center of the paper, and let the kids use a plastic knife to spread it out like “frosting”
    Then circulate around the room using red, blue and yellow food colors.
    Try to just put a few dots on each. Have the kids experiment by drawing squiggle lines back and forth, creating almost a marbling effect. The colors will at some point cross each other and with luck you will see some green, orange and purple emerge!

    some will get over excited…and overwork it. You have to just be ready to call time after a few minutes.
    Once the shaving cream dries, it disappears, and leaves behind a marbling effect that can be used for a card background or something else.

  • Dani Suhy

    I did this with kinders and squirted the cream right onto the table! It took about two cans for a class of 20. We smoothed it out with our hands to make it flat then painted on it with watercolors and brushes. They then printed the image on their paper (perm markered name on it first) and put it in the drying rack. We then spread the cream all over the table (I added a little more cream for this) and drew in it! When clean up came I gave them all paper towel to scrape as much as they could which got it to about 75% and then I sponged down the rest. At the end of the day, the papers were dry and I could shake them over the trash and the foam just flakes off. I picked the wrong scent and my room smelled very manly for a few days though! Check the kindergarten part of the website for photos!

    • Patty

      Wow. This sounds super brave! I love this idea. Maybe I’ll tackle shaving cream again someday! 🙂

  • Laura

    I was recently subbing afterschool for the preschool program at my school. The teacher regularly puts paint smocks on the kids, takes away the chairs, and directly squirts a bunch of shaving cream directly on the table! The kids then fingerpaint. It’s really fun, gets everyone clean and is fairly easy to clean up!

  • lauren

    before I ever had my own classroom, I did this project but instead of shaving cream, I used liquid starch and watered down paint in little cups. I made the kids get into teams. five teams of four and each team gets a pan. The four kids would all contribute to the design by pouring/swirling. Then together they would work on pulling prints. We talked about how artists who make prints make a series and each one in the series can be a little bit different. I let them make as many nice prints as a team as they can fit, and then the next day the team would divy up the prints between the four of them, (hopefully each kid had at least two) and we covered cardboard to make hardcover books with them.

  • Susie

    I did this with my campers. We had quite of few, but managed to do this activity with only 6 cans of shaving cream and 4 boxes of food coloring. It was not cheap, but it was fun. Food coloring works the best. We did experiment with tempra paint, but it was pretty messy, and we did not like the effects of the paint. We covered the table with plastic and just put the shaving cream on the table. We used the paper to make mini autograph albums. The kids had a great time. I am planning on doing it again this summer. Thanks.

  • Laura McGowan

    I’ve done this with 5th graders for a few years. I use food coloring, which seems to last a long time. I pass out the styrofoam meat trays to each student. Then I go around the room spraying a pretty small amount of shaving cream on each student’s tray. They use plastic tiling scrapers (got these with a mosaics grant several years ago) to spread the shaving cream after they get it. Then I circulate again with food coloring and let them choose 2 colors, which I drop dots of on their shaving cream. Then they use toothpicks to swirl. I circulate again with a large plastic tray, a bowl of water, and a couple of washcloths. I have the first table of students put their 6×9″ papers on the shaving cream, and then one at a time take the papers off. I put them on my large tray, wipe them off with the washcloth, and then let the kids wash hands and scrapers. As I’m finishing up with the first table, I tell the second table to go ahead and print, and so on til everyone’s done. When the papers are dry the second week, I have the kids mount them on 9×12″ black paper, then use a smaller piece of black paper to cut out silhouettes to glue onto the marbled paper. It works great and the kids love it (even in this regimented method!).

    • Patty

      I think your instruction is the most concise, efficient method for this project. You almost make me want to try it again.

  • Nancy

    I did this for our Arts Day last year with our Kinders up to Grade 6. It was extremely popular and the kids loved it!

    I set up a station next to the sink with 4 cafeteria type trays with foam and let the kids pick either a warm palette (described to them like a sunset,) or a cool palette (like a night sky.) I had the kids reuse the foam until it started to get soggy and could usually get about 4 to 6 prints from each tray depending on how much swirling had been done. I made combs out of toothpicks stuck (and glued) into a piece of foamcore. I told them to use as much pressure as they would use to stroke a cat which helped them to understand what I meant by a light touch. I started off scraping off the foam with pieces of matt board, but they soon became soggy. I ended up using a pieces of corrugated plastic from a garage sale sign purchased from a dollar store. I cut it into 3″ strips, cut with the grain so that you don’t get lots of streaky lines and it was used for both smoothing out the foam and for squeegying the finished print. We used watered down watercolour paint from tubes and the prints dried quite quickly, within 15 to 20 minutes. It was always exciting to watch the reveal as each print was squeegied. All in all, a big hit.

  • Meredith

    I learned a valuable lesson of trying things at home first! In doing so, I also figured out that it would be best with a few kiddos at a time. Or, to do the actual paper making as a demo – allow students to watch and to see the colours mixing (colour mixing unit for science) and then to do an ‘Eric Carle’ style art project with the paper, such as flowers for spring. I used food colouring and it worked very well. I’m jumping in with two feet and am trying it next week – wish me luck!

  • Lynne

    Hi, I teach 18 children who are between 4.3 – 5 years. I love this project. I do not fill tubs with shaving cream. I use a piece of slick finger paint paper or if I am lucky free book covers donated as advertisement, Pantene, for example. I squirt enough shaving cream to make a pile in the center of the paper. The children stand up at the table. They use the side of a tongue depressor or popsicle stick to slightly spread it out. My assistant and I walk around with eye droppers and cups of liquid watercolor. If the child would like that color they point to where it will go. This is not to squash their creativity, but because it is quicker and cups don’t get tipped. It also spreads the amount of materials to allow all of them to have as many colors as they like. We move fast and the children are always eager to get a new color. Now the fun part. They take the same stick they used to spread the shaving cream and very gently swirl their colors. We talk prior to the activitiy about using the stick to “cut” through the colors. I also demonstrate what happenes if they mix it like a cake. The whole thing turns to brown. We do this at Easter, laying a piece of cardstock on top which is later cut out and hinged to be a hatching egg. Many animals hatch from eggs. We may have spiders, chicks, lizards, snakes etc. It’s great Fun.
    The best part is clean up. I use a window squeege to slide foam off eggs. Also the paper under the foam can be folded and trown away or it can also be squeeged off and used for a second project.
    Good luck.

  • Audrey

    We used finger paint trays, 2 at a time and spread a small amount of shaving cream around the tray. Then we lightly dripped 3 colors of washable tempera onto the shaving cream. We swirled it around with either a stick( like the back of a paintbrush) or a hair pick. Then we pressed our paper to the design, rubbed and lifted. We squeegee the shaving cream/paint mixture off and behold…a beautifully marbleized paper. Rince the tray and the next student gets a turn. Works beautifully with my special Ed md kids. Very sensory.

  • Linda

    I have done this project several times, but have used acrylics slightly watered down. The colors are brighter and more vibrant. I have used cardstock, but prefer cheaper brands of watercolor paper. I use a cookie sheet with about 1 inch of shaving cream. Granted, I can do one child at a time (small group), so I don’t have the time crunch most teachers face. I have them fliclk the paint off of small paintbrushes and then have them swirl the paint with wooden kabob sticks. We made beautiful fall colors which were made into leaf garlands to send to a military father in Afghanistan. When one child is done, most of the time I have been able to just scrap off the top layer of painted swirls, add a bit more shaving cream to have a clean surface for the next child. The kids really love doing this and I have been very pleased with the results. The great thing is that you can use this for so many different projects, even though it can be time consuming. But some things are just worth it.

  • Amy

    I have had these moments as well…my experience has always been with middle and high school students, and for the past four years I teach at a small K-12 independent school and teach all of the students in the school. So the kinders are often my guinea pigs, most of the time with pleasant results, and sometimes with “disasters” as well! I love the shaving cream marbling, and I have done it with kindergarten, a couple times actually. The first time I knew it was going to be a messy disaster, but the good thing is, shaving cream cleans up so easily since it dissolves. It was the last class before summer break and I just went for it–instead of trays, we just smoothed it all over our tables and I filled cheap spray bottles with the liquid watercolor. I was very clear on where they could spray the paint–onto the shaving cream! This made for a very light misting of color, so not quite marbling, but the results were pretty and colorful and they were still able to run sticks and forks through the shaving cream to get some different patterns with the paint. I use cardboard “squeegees” for them to scrape off the excess cream. Of course when they were done, they just played in the shaving cream at their tables and it made for a memorable last class. Still, quite a disaster and not something I wanted to do again! I do the marbling with kids of all ages, they all love it. What I use more than liquid watercolors are the little bottles of craft acrylics–the colors are more intense and they can just squeeze it easily over the shaving cream. And, metallic colors like gold and copper look so pretty mixed in with a couple of other colors! I know it stains more, but the results are worth it and quite honestly, when it is in trays and the objectives are clear, its really not that bad! Now I am onto looking into this shaving cream “puffy paint”…my daughters pre school class made puffy snowmen that were so cute, I had to figure out how they did it! Have you tried this mixture? Thanks for your insights and fun ideas!

  • Lauren

    My advise is to ditch the trays and use smaller paper. The shaving cream actually cleans your art room tables!!!! I just put a dollop of shaving cream down for each student, then they have to flatten it out to be roughly the size of their paper
    Before adding color and swirling. I do this project for name tags on the first day of art class- it’s good for teaching / establishing cleanup rules and excited students get a hands on project their first day.
    You can also use cardboard to squeegee away the mess and then have students use a sponge. Don’t forget paint shirts for the little ones! 🙂


  • Angie

    I’m planning on trying this with my Kindergarten and 1st grade classes next week. :/ I have asked for parent volunteers for each class and am going to try to do 4 kiddos at a time and have the rest working on something else at their tables. We’ll see how it goes…

  • Bea

    Yes.I loved the project. Cool marbling effects. What do you do with the colored shaving cream? How do you dispose it?

    • Patty

      You can rinse it under water and dispose in a sink 🙂

  • Robin Wisely

    I use this technique quite frequently, it s a class favorite, and if you use the small photo paper, a small tray or plate and an eye dropper. then at the scraping station we use a plastic ruler! works great and even my kinders can do it themselves, although not all at once. Beautiful for polar aurora borealis picture with animals in front

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