Children are naturally drawn to activities that stimulate their senses. They want to touch, taste, smell, and move. That's because children's senses play an important role in their health and development. Through sensory play, children build cognitive skills and learn about their world.
In our 'Sensing Art Beyond Sight' series, we used children's natural interest in sensory play to explore art. Our first class in the series focused on taste and smell. There was an excited buzz about this class because, who doesn't love edible art?
We began class by waking up our senses through a classic Montessori activity - smelling jars. Kids took their time smelling various spice jars and tea tins. Soon the kids were discussing the best smells and their least favorite smells. This led the kids to share a bit about what foods they eat at home.
At our first art station, children created their own snack using bread, milk, and food coloring. I explained to students that we can't normally eat paint because it is full of yucky things. But today's special paint was made from just milk and food coloring, so it was safe to nibble. Children painted their bread like they would normally paint paper. Then we toasted it in an air fryer. It was exciting to taste the finished artwork.
Our second piece of art we created was also edible. When I was a little girl, I remember creating many keychains with Perler beads, little plastic beads that you arrange and then melt together. I was super excited when I learned that Twizzlers can be used in a similar way. Before class, I had prepared "Perler beads" by cutting up Rainbow Twizzlers into 1/4" pieces. In class, students used a stencil to draw a picture on parchment paper. Then students arranged the Twizzler pieces inside the stencil marks. When the picture was complete, I put another layer of parchment paper on top and melted the Twizzlers with an iron. What fun to munch on a sweet piece of art!
At our third art station, we painted as if we were using liquid watercolors, except our paint was made from powdered drink mix. While the artwork smelled AMAZING, we were a little disappointed that the four drink flavors all had a similar color. So we did some experimenting and decided to include actual watercolors. Our pictures still smelled great, but they included more color.
I challenged my students to go home and see if they could collect colors from natural things in or around their home. I was delighted when a student returned the next week with a paper full of color, collected from dandelions, grass, dirt, and a variety of materials. I can only imagine what ideas and creativity will be sparked by this art exploration.