Sensory play is important for small children. While teaching them to explore all of their five senses, it also encourages fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, cognitive and language development and much more. It’s often calming and always FUN!
One of the most common items used in sensory activities is shaving foam, thanks to its squishy, fluffy texture and easy availability in supermarkets. It’s also easy to clean up, since it just melts away into liquid – if you use a tray for your shaving foam play, you can just pour the leftovers down the drain. Even easier is playing outside for a simple hose down afterwards. Another fun activity for the kids!
But first, a note on shaving foam
If you’re worried about your really small kids putting it in their mouth during playtime, you may prefer to whip up your own batch of aquafaba, a vegan alternative to egg whites that whips up into a shaving cream-like consistency, using a tin of chickpeas instead. I know – who knew?! It’s a genius non-toxic alternative and super-easy to make, so grab the instructions here.
There are so many interesting ways to use shaving foam or aquafaba foam to get your child into some sensory play, we’ve rounded up some of our faves that are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
Fun shaving foam activities for toddlers and preschoolers
1. Frozen sensory fun
This fun sensory activity from Learn Play Imagine is so easy – just freeze some coloured water with glitter and pop the frozen cubes in a tray of shaving foam. Kids will love the icy texture and watching the colours swirl into the foam as the cubes melt. A brilliant activity for a hot day!
2. Stone washing
This simple activity from Happy Toddler Playtime is brilliant for toddlers – simply place rocks or beads of various colours and sizes into a container and cover them with foam. Give your tot another large container with some water and a scrubbing brush, and let them wash each item as they find it. You could extend this activity into a colour or shape-sorting game for slightly older kids.
3. Connect the dots
We love this clever pre-writing activity from School Time Snippets. Create shapes or letters using dots of shaving foam, and let your little one connect the dots with their finger or a cotton bud to complete the shapes. This excellent fine motor activity is a great lead-in to letter and shape recognition in readiness for reading and writing.
4. Rainbow foam dough
Only two ingredients are needed to make this fun foam play dough from Fun at Home with Kids. Just mix equal parts corn starch and shaving foam, add your desired food colouring, then gently knead into a dough consistency for easy sensory fun.
5. Cake decorating
This simple but genius idea from Hands-On Teaching Ideas lets kids decorate their own shaving foam ‘cake’. First, cover an upturned bowl with shaving foam. Colour some extra foam with food colouring and place into piping bags, then let your kiddos get decorating! Smaller kids can still have fun decorating with beads and other small colourful items if they can’t quite manage the piping bags.
6. 3-ingredient puff paint
This puffy foam paint recipe from Dabbles & Babbles is so easy – just place equal parts shaving cream and white craft glue in a ziplock bag, add your desired food colouring and squish the sealed bag together until all your ingredients are nicely mixed. Snip off a corner of the bag to pipe the paint out, or place in a cup for little kids to use with a paintbrush.
7. Marbled paper art
With some shaving cream and acrylic paints, kids can make their own pretty paper to use in arts and crafts or for wrapping gifts with this easy tutorial from Crafty Morning.
8. 3-ingredient shaving foam slime
No matter how much parents despise finding little specks and balls of the stuff all over the place, kids can’t get enough of SLIME! Make your own with shaving cream, white craft glue and some contact lens solution with this easy recipe from The Typical Mom.
9. Letter finding
It’s as simple as popping your Scrabble letters into a bowl of shaving foam for this fun activity from Little Bins for Little Hands. Give your kiddo a measuring cup to scoop out the letters and have some fun naming and matching the letters they find while you’re at it.
10. Handwriting practice
This fun letter and word recognition activity from Mess for Less is so simple to set up. Just spread some shaving foam on a tray and use letter or word cards as prompts. Show your kiddo how to trace letters and words in the foam using their finger or a paint brush or cotton bud.
11. Colour mixing sensory bags
For a less messy sensory play activity, pop some different coloured poster paints into the corners of a ziplock bag, then add shaving foam. Seal the bag and let your tot squish and squash the bag until the colours spread and mix together. Great for colour recognition and a calming sensory activity for when you need some quiet time. Full instructions at Best Toys 4 Toddlers.
12. Sand foam
Slimy AND gritty, this fun sand foam is made by combining shaving foam with sand and the finished product is a lot like wet sand from the beach. Great for burying and digging up little objects like toy dinosaurs, or driving cars and construction vehicles to leave cool tracks. The world is your oyster with this easy idea from Paging Fun Mums.
13. Rain clouds in jar
Show the kids how clouds turn into rain with this clever experiment using water, shaving cream and a few drops of food colouring. It really is that simple! Once you’ve made it rain, check out our cool science experiments for kids for more scientific fun.
For a crazy bit of of active outdoor fun, why not pop some coloured shaving foam on your Twister mat and watch the slippery, messy antics ensue?!