Recently, the toddlers and I had a lot of fun engaging in some cloud observation and shaving cream cloud painting!
This is a great activity to do as part of a weather unit study, or nature unit study. I love bringing our learning outdoors, but if you needed to do this activity inside, you could possibly place a picture of a cloud above or beside the mirror, or place the picture on a cutting board and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and use that as your painting surface instead of a mirror.
As an art activity, this is a great way to introduce representational art (creating art that is intended to look like something) because of the simplicity of the subject matter and the use of mirrors to somewhat “trace” the clouds upon.
Materials for Painting Clouds Sensory Activity for Kids:
We used a nonbreakable mirror for this activity, which is essentially a flexible non-glass mirror that can be bent, hit, and stepped on without worry of it shattering. It would take a really strong grown up to cause damage to one of these — however I do find that they get scratched easily. We use ours for art activities like this, to give different perspectives when block building, and in our dress-up corner as a safer alternative to a regular mirror.
If you can’t get your hands on an unbreakable mirror, I would instead use a sturdy, framed mirror like Happy Hooligans did when they painted clouds.
Sometimes when doing sensory activities, if I have toddlers who occassionally use soothers (i.e., at naptime) I will offer them one, just to prevent any inclination to put small objects in their mouth or taste. However, I would not do this activity with a child who was still in the mouthing phase.
We started off by looking in the mirrors and observing the clouds floating above us. We traced the outlines of the clouds’ reflection with our fingers and paintbrushes and I used descriptive language to discuss the clouds.
With older children, you could try to identify what type of clouds you’re seeing, and what those cloud formations might mean.
Next, I introduced the shaving cream!
The children loved dipping their paintbrushes and fingers into the shaving cream and attempting to make clouds on their mirror surfaces.
The shaving cream is an interesting painting medium, as it needs to be applied thickly and using the brush almost like a spatula. It just slides around on the mirror surface when treated like paint, and unlike paint, you can’t just “paint on” extra layers — additional shaving cream needs to be stippled on.
It was wonderful watching the children problem solve and experiment with the shaving cream painting, and then we added in the glass gems to extend our play. We got about 30 minutes of play out of this activity, and could probably revisit it again.
We’re adding this fun Painting Clouds activity to Emma Owl’s Paint-A-Thon — over 101 Painting Ideas for Kids being shared from a variety of bloggers.
Check out the other painting ideas here: