This Play Invitation combines the wonders of science and art as children explore paint, salt, and water.

While experimenting with these materials, children can observe the chemical reaction of absorption and contemplate the beauty of the final result.

This is also an opportunity to identify, describe and seek explanations for phenomena, and develop hand eye coordination and fine motor skills.

What Could Lead Us to This Play Invitation

  • Children have been observing other simple chemical reactions – for example, when soap foams up while washing their hands;
  • Children are excited about making magical potions and perfumes, or just mixing ingredients.

Materials Needed

  • Liquid watercolor paints
  • Paper
  • Pipettes
  • Salt
  • Brushes
  • Trays (optional)

Setting up This Play Invitation

  1. Lay the paper on a table or on top of trays (a tray will help to contain the salt) with the watercolors, pipettes, and brushes within children’s reach.
  2. Have the salt nearby inside small salt shakers.
  3. Prepare a flat surface to dry the paintings horizontally.

    Tip: Have a small broom and dustpan handy to collect the excess salt that spills onto the table and floor.

How to Create the Painting

  1. Invite children to paint the watercolor paper by squeezing the watercolor paint with pipettes and then brushing the paint around. Let children be generous with the paint (the paper must be wet for the salt to work).
  2. Offer the salt shakers and invite children to sprinkle the painting and observe the chemical reaction that occurs. (Once the salt is sprinkled, no more brushing.)
Child adding salt to their painting

How to Nurture the Natural Unfolding of the Child’s Identity During This Play Invitation

  • Young children have the right to raise questions about the phenomena that they observe and build their own theories about them. Let kids explore freely without imposing instructions or questions. Record what they do and what they say during the process. Later, you can bring your observations and the results of this exploration and reflect with the children about what happened, inviting them to share their theories.

The Academic Learning Opportunities

  • LANGUAGE: Engage in the exploration of new vocabulary to communicate ideas.
  • SCIENCE: Explore concepts such as absorption and salt’s reaction to water and pigment; and use observation and investigation to identify, describe and seek explanations for phenomena, and to formulate new theories.
  • ART: Develop perception of colors and hues, experiment with composition and visual balance.


  • Invite children to experiment with baking soda and vinegar to create another really fun chemical reaction.

Book Recommendation

A funny book about the adventure of mixing ingredients.