Teaching and learning

10 shaving cream activities for preschoolers

Have loads of messy fun with this inexpensive sensory material.
illustration of kid playing with shaving cream
March 13, 2024
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  • Who knew that an everyday product like shaving cream could create hours of learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers? 
  • These activities will get your children having fun, and developing all types of skills - sensory, motor, imagination and more!

From the moment children are born, they begin to explore the world through their five senses. The way things look, feel, sound, taste and smell creates the foundation for little ones to comprehend their environment.

Not only that, but engaging the senses actually strengthens neural pathways and establishes the foundation for how children learn for the rest of their lives. Simply, sensory play is important for early learners and child development, and thus should be incorporated into early childhood activities. 

And when it comes to sensory messy play, shaving foam activities are a terrific pick.

Shaving cream is cheap, common, and extremely versatile. One simple purchase from the store can make for hours of play and learning with children. There truly is an endless amount of preschool activities with shaving cream. Let's look at 10 examples of shaving cream play ideas that encourage language learning, social skills, cognitive development, motor skills and creativity.

Be cautious though, as shaving cream isn’t edible, so if your early learners are too young to not be sticking their hands in their mouths during sensory play, try replacing the shaving cream with whipped cream!

Now let's get into the hands-on learning activities you came here for: science experiments, sensory play ideas, messy play, and more!

1. Open up a shaving cream bakery

shaving cream messy play ideas

In a nutshell: Give the children some baker’s aprons and get their imaginations going by using the shaving cream to pretend to make cupcakes, cream pies and layered cakes. This fun activity can really engage several different kinds of sensory play by using different sizes and shapes of items and containers, different colors of shaving cream, and by asking the children to imagine what their concoctions would taste and smell like.

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Baking ware (pie tins, cupcake pans, paper baking cups)
  • Stackable blocks or plastic containers
  • Food coloring
  • Beads, glitter, buttons, whatever recycled decorative craft materials you have available

How you do it: Spray shaving cream into several bowls and add food coloring so you have different colors of ‘dough’ and ‘icing’. Then have the children start baking. Fill the pie tins to make a cream pie. Add different colored shaving cream into paper baking cups and decorate each one for an assortment of dazzling cupcakes. Have the children ‘frost’ different items and stack them on top of each other to make a layered cake.

Source: Mess for Less

2. Messy shaving cream art window painting

two kids playing with shaving cream on the window

In a nutshell: Let the children get messy and explore what happens when they spread colored shaving cream out on a window with their hands or a paintbrush. It will be fun and exciting to turn an everyday normal surface into a canvas, and you can bolster their cognitive skills by asking questions such as “why can’t you see through the window after you put shaving cream on it?” or “Can you see yourself in the window?” and “Do the colors change when you mix them?”

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Washable paint
  • Bowls/containers to put shaving cream
  • Paintbrush
  • Squeegee (for easy clean up)
  • Bucket for water

How you do it: Mix shaving cream with different colors of paint in several containers. Give the children paintbrushes, or let them use their hands, to paint on a window. Use a bucket of water and a squeegee to wipe off in order to begin the next painting.

Source: Fun Learning for Kids

3. Shaving cream sensory bin

shaving cream sensory bin

In a nutshell: This contained sensory bin activity is perfect for simple sensory play and allows children to explore different colors, textures and smells all at once. Engage the children by having them talk to each other about what they find and how objects feel different than the shaving cream. 

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Plastic storage container large enough for several children to reach into at once (100-litre plastic boxes work great)
  • Food coloring
  • Small toys/objects of different sizes, shapes, materials

How you do it: Fill a large container with shaving cream and several objects that would fit into a child’s hand, such as wooden blocks, toy cars, golf balls or marbles. Drop different colors of food coloring as well so the colors change as the children dig through the bin with their hands. Ask them to find specific things in the foam, or just let them play in it and examine everything in the sensory bin.

Source: Taming Little Monsters

4. Writing and mark-making in shaving cream

mark making and writing in shaving cream

In a nutshell: Work on fine motor skills and letter and number practice by having the children write in shaving cream with their fingers. This activity can vary greatly depending on how old the children are. For really young early learners you can have them just draw pictures in the shaving cream, to build those basic mark-making skills.

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Trays or access to an easy to clean flat surface
  • Flash cards (optional)
  • Towels

How you do it: Spread out shaving cream evenly on a tray, desk or table. Hand out flash cards with letters, words or numbers written on them and have the children use their fingers to copy them into the cream. When they have gotten the hang of one card, have them swap and practice a new one. All you have to do is wipe the shaving cream and start again. You can also leave the flash cards, and simply allow children to use the foam layer as a surface for painting and mark-making.

Source: Mess for Less

5. Make your own shaving cream mosaic

shaving cream mosaic

In a nutshell: Use shaving cream as a base for making mosaics with materials that are different shapes, sizes and textures to make for visually stimulating sensory play. Embedding these materials into the foam allows children to express their artistic creativity, while blending those fine-motor skills with foamy messy play.

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • An assortment of small items such as beads, marbles, cut up straws, yarn, colored tissue paper, small plastic craft pieces
  • Trays to contain the mess

How you do it: Give each child a tray and have them spread out shaving cream evenly to make their “canvas” and set out baskets of materials. The foam will act as a sort of glue, keeping pieces in place so the children can make mosaic art. You can easily reuse pieces too by scraping the finished pictures into a mesh strainer and rinsing away the shaving cream.

6. Marbled painting prints with shaving cream art

marble painting with shaving cream

In a nutshell: Let children experiment with making beautiful prints using just food coloring and shaving cream.

What you’ll need: 

  • Shaving cream
  • Food dye
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Tin pans or baking sheets
  • Sheet of paper

How you do it: Give the children tin pans and have them spread out shaving cream. Then have them add a few drops of food coloring over the foam and, using popsicle sticks, let them swirl the colors to make a marble-like design. Gently place a sheet of paper on top of the shaving cream and then peel it away and leave out to dry to complete your masterpiece.

Source: Crafty Morning 

7. Sensory play with shaving cream play dough

play dough shaving cream sensory play

In a nutshell: Teach children about how the form, texture and density of solids can change by making your own play dough with shaving cream and cornstarch. This is great for motor skills as they mold and sculpt the dough into objects. 

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Cornstarch 
  • Food coloring (optional)

How you do it: Give the children shaving cream and cornstarch to mix together. Start out with a one to one ratio for a nice malleable consistency — you can add more if it’s too dry, or more cornstarch if it’s too goopy. Add food coloring to make different colors of dough for some extra fun with rainbow foam dough.

Source: Fun at Home with Kids 

8. Paint perfect pictures with puffy paint

painting with shaving cream or puffy paint

In a nutshell: Using shaving cream, glue, flour, and food coloring, make a thick paint that puffs up and solidifies overnight. This sensory activity lets you make paintings that jump off the page, and teach children about how something soft and squishy can turn into something solid.

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • School glue
  • All purpose flour
  • Food coloring
  • Bowls for mixing
  • Large paintbrushes

How you do it: In several bowls mix three cups of shaving cream, one cup of school glue and one cup of flour. Add a different food coloring to each bowl to make several different paints. Give the children large paintbrushes, as the paint is pretty thick, and let them gloop and glom their paintings. Let the paintings dry overnight so the children can take home the art without a mess.

Source: Fun At Home

9. Colorful melting ice in sensory shaving cream 

shaving cream ice sensory play

In a nutshell: Explore a new aspect of sensory play with colored ice cubes in shaving cream that change as they melt, and talk about how temperature can change water into ice and back to water again.

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Ice trays
  • Large bin
  • Glitter, beads, small decorations (optional)

How you do it: The night before the activity, fill ice trays with water and add food coloring, glitter, or anything else to each slot in order to make an assortment of different cubes. On the day of, fill some large bins or containers with shaving cream and dump the ice cubes in. Let the children stick their hands into the foam and find the cubes. As they are having a blast finding the different cubes, they will melt, adding swirls of color to the shaving cream as the children explore different textures and temperatures.

Source: Learn Play Imagine

10. Simple shaving cream sensory bags

shaving cream filled bags for sensory play

In a nutshell: By filling plastic re-sealable bags with shaving cream, food coloring and various favorite items you can create a mess free sensory play activity where children can squeeze the bags, find objects, and watch the color mix in with the fluffy foam. This sensory activity is super easy to put together, and is a guaranteed hit for little hands.

What you’ll need:

  • Shaving cream
  • Re-sealable plastic bags
  • Food coloring
  • Small objects, toys, beads, etc of different shapes and sizes

How you do it: Simply fill plastic bags with shaving foam, several objects, and a couple drops of food coloring. Seal up the bag and let the children squeeze the bags to their heart's content. If you like, you can swap the bag out for an open-top plastic container, to create a shaving cream sensory bin that multiple children can enjoy at once.

Source: Cafe Mom

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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