Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Scented Chalk Paint for Olfactory Sensory Processing Play

What is Olfactory Sensory Processing Play?

The Olfactory System is your sense of smell. Some smells are pleasant, while others are not. Some smells bring up nostalgic memories, while others warn us of danger. Sensory processing play is important for children. Not only does it add to the sensory experience, but it helps them learn to discern different scents. For instance, when we are learning about ocean creatures in a water sensory bin, we will add sea salt to the water. It will help them associate smells with certain creatures or experiences. 

Today we created scented chalk paint! While this wasn't a themed activity, it was fun to play with and the kids loved that the chalk was scented! They helped create each batch of paint and picked out the scents we used. The reason why we created scented chalk paint is because sometimes you can't see what you smell, so it's good practice to be able to recognize the scents, even when they are obscured by others. 

To make scented chalk paint you will need:
Cornstarch (corn flour)
Scents (you can use natural or artificial extracts, Kool-Aid packets, Duncan Hines Frosting Creation packets or Jell-O powder). 
Food Coloring (optional) 
Utensils to stir the mixtures and a tray or containers to pour the liquid chalk into.

We have been experimenting with different recipes to make liquid chalk paint, and one of our favorites uses Jell-O. It's not perfect, but it does smell fantastic and the result is a thicker paint. Be sure to only use this chalk paint on a surface that is washable, as Jell-O does stain. We would usually prefer Kool-Aid packets because they are sugar-free, but they are incredibly hard to find! The convenience of Kool-Aid and Jell-O is that it adds both color and scent, so it makes it a quick addition to this recipe. 

You basically want to mix a 50/50 ratio of cornstarch and water, though you may prefer a more watery consistency. I mixed the water and 1/8-1/4 cup of Jell-O together first and let the Jell-O dissolve before mixing in the cornstarch. I added a tiny bit of food coloring to each batch to make the color brighter.  

The result is thick chalk paint that you can smell from a couple paces away!

And the chalk paint lays on thick, so it quickly covers the area!

We would typically paint on the basketball court, but some boys were already playing there, so we found a spot on the walking path near the big tree.

Munchkin just wanted to paint suns and he made a circular yellow sun and an orange sun with rays!

 While they were painting I asked them if they could recognize the scents. I hadn't told them what the scents were initially and let them pick the Jell-O based on color. They were able to instantly recognize the scents though because they were some of their favorite fruits! Orange, lemon, lime, strawberry and berries! Berries is kind of a mixed scent, because it is both blueberries and raspberries, but they were still able to make out the scent of blueberries.

This variety of chalk paint continues to smell great and dries quickly. However, some happy ants will be by to check out the sugar!

This is a post that is part of Little Bins for Little Hands 6 Days of Sensory Play for Kids blog hop! Be sure to check out the other blogger's posts who contributed to this sensory processing play round-up!

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