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.
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:
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- 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
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.
Everyone followed suit, dipping into their bowls of shaving cream and carefully covering a block with foam. The fun had begun.
Spreading, dipping and stacking ensued.
According to their conversations, some were baking cupcakes, some were building towers, and some were building cities.
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.
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!
If you have a favourite activity that teaches spreading skills, I’d love for you to leave a suggestion in the comments below!
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.