Teaching Spreading Skills with Blocks and Shaving Cream

Want a super activity for teaching spreading skills to your preschooler or toddler?  Break out the building blocks and shaving cream!  And prepare yourself for a little bit of mess and a whole lot of fun.

Recently, while preparing some crackers and peanut butter for snack, I got thinking about helping the children develop their spreading skills.  All I knew was I wanted to use non-food items because I wanted a fun, engaging activity that we could fill a morning with.  I was certain that I’d come up with something if I mulled it over for a few days.


Learning to spread with blocks and shaving cream


Sure enough, the light-bulb went on earlier this week when I was looking through all of my shaving cream posts.  I thought “Hey!  Shaving cream is spreadable!, and it’s most definitely fun and engaging!”  The hooligans LOVE playing with shaving cream!

All that was left was to figure out WHAT we could spread the shaving cream on.  It didn’t take long to come up with the answer:  our foam blocks!  The hooligans could work on their spreading skills while building structures!

Let me just tell you – this activity was FABULOUS!  Not only was it a great activity for teaching spreading skills, it was a wonderful construction activity, it incorporated messy play, imaginative play and fine-motor skill development, and at the end of it all there was some water-play as well.  Could it get any better than that?

Let me show you all the fun!

When teaching spreading skills with shaving cream and blocks, you’ll need:


foam blocks, shaving cream, bowls, pate spreaders

For your convenience, affiliate links have been added to this post.


  • foam building blocks
  • foaming shaving cream (as opposed to gel) – canned whipped topping or foaming bath paints could also be used
  • small pate spreaders, plastic knives etc.
  • flat, non-porous surface (suggestions below)
  • small bowls


Getting started:

To start, choose a flat work surface.  If it’s something like a plastic tray, a baking sheet or a table that you’re not too fussy about, you’re good to go.  If you’re concerned about the surface of your table however, I would advise protecting it first with a table cloth or towel just to be safe.  I’m not entirely sure what effect shaving cream might have on it, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Place the blocks in the middle of the table.

Fill a small bowl with a generous squirt of foamy shaving cream.

Give each child a pate spreader or plastic knife and let them know that they’ll be working on their “spreading skills” while building their structures.  For the benefit of the youngest hooligan, I did a little demonstration.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t entirely for her benefit.  Maybe, just maybe I couldn’t resist.  It all looked so inviting and fun!  Whatever the case may be, I dipped the spreader into some foam, scooped it up, spread it on a block, and “splat”, smushed the block to the table to start things off.


toddler stacking blocks spread with shaving cream


Everyone followed suit, dipping into their bowls of shaving cream and carefully covering a block with foam.  The fun had begun.


spreading shaving cream on blocks


Spreading, dipping and stacking ensued.


teaching spreading skills with shaving cream


According to their conversations, some were baking cupcakes, some were building towers, and some were building cities.


toddler spreading shaving cream on a foam block

Honestly.  What fun!  Open-ended building always sparks so much creativity, and adding the shaving cream just took it to a new level.  And all of the fine motor skills – manipulating those knives, little fingers turning those blocks over and over to coat them with shaving cream, and then of course, the critical thinking – the planning, the stacking, the building.


foam blocks and shaving cream structures
This activity was such a winner in my books, and one that we’ll repeat over and over I’m sure!

Teaching spreading skills couldn’t have been any more fun.

And how did we end our morning?  WIth a good, ol’ soapy block-wash of course!


washing blocks in shaving cream and water


If you have a favourite activity that teaches spreading skills, I’d love for you to leave a suggestion in the comments below!

Be sure to check out all of our shaving cream activities and our structure activities before you leave!



  1. Lara says

    Awesome idea, my Mom taught nursery/preschool for 20+ years, and she always told her parents (90+ a year) that you need to teach your child how to make a PB&J, if for no other reason that if you were sick, they could make themselves a simple meal. It’s an important skill, yet it seems so simple to us adults. My husband always tries to help my kids and I make him back away because they need to learn it.

  2. says

    This is a great idea! I was just talking to my 6-year-old about learning to make his own PB&Js. He doesn’t want to because the last time he tried, I kept getting after him for not paying attention and getting the jelly everywhere except on the bread. Kids’ messes just stress me out. We’ll definitely have to try your idea! But it’ll have to wait a while…January in Colorado is a bit too cold.
    We already have the foam blocks, thanks to your suggestion and link! My kids love them! So we got a second set. They get played with more than anything else they have!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>