IMG_2206My kids love art projects (maybe even more than I do) and this week we are exploring with water.   This is our experiment where we interacted with water, dye, oil and shaving cream to learn about emulsion, flotation, absorption and make a lovely mess.

Materials we used:

  • an old baking dish
  • liquid food coloring
  • Tempera Paint
  • Spray Oil
  • Shaving Cream
  • Paper (cut into fourths)

We began our mess with water by mixing liquid food coloring in to water and dipping our paper into it to get a baseline (or control group) – it didn’t look like much.


We next added blobs of Tempera Paint to the water.   This paint mixes really well with glue and with shaving cream.   I’ve even made watercolors with dried out bits.   So I assumed I could save my food coloring and brighten the colors by adding tempera.   I was wrong.IMG_2210 The tempera paint did not mix into the water or float, rather it settled to the bottom of the pan in a solid lump.   My daughter rubbed her paper in the paint anyways.   The result was not impressive.   We dumped the water and started over.

IMG_2214This time, we filled the pan with water and blue/green dye, sprayed our paper with oil and then dipped the paper into the water.   I thought the oil would make the dye absorb more in the areas that were not “oily”.   Again, I was wrong!   I love having my assumptions disproved!   And I thought I was “teaching” the kids.   This was the best result as of yet. The colors were more bright and were attracted more to the oil than the non-oiled areas.

IMG_2215To prove this last experiment we cut out some letters (M for “Making-a-Mess” and decided to make a stencil.   We sprayed another piece of paper with oil, all but the area covered by the “M”, and dipped the paper in the water.   You can see the white area where the “M” did not absorb the color as well as the oiled areas.


Now that we had fun with oil and absorption as well as sinking/flotation with the tempera paint (sinking) and our paper (floating) we decided to add my favorite painting ingredient, shaving cream, and see what changes it would make to our water “mess”. We kept the blue water and sprayed the shaving cream on top of it.   We discussed how the shaving cream floated, how it is lighter than water and how it does not easily mix with water (emulsion).   We dropped some red food coloring on top of the shaving cream.   The lightly swirled   purple paper this experiment created was brilliant!

IMG_2218Finally, we took some of the paper from earlier and splattered the now-purplish water onto them and painted with our paintbrushes.   The kids had a blast and I had a mess.   Hopefully you can have fun with water this week!

Here are our finished products:


This project was part of our Water learning theme.   Click the link below for similar activities:


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