This week’s theme for Discover & Explore is the Five Senses. I hope after reading this post you’ll share your favorite ways to help kids learn about their senses.
We recently used tea bags for a variety of learning and play activities, and this painting with tea bags project turned out to be such a delight for the senses that I couldn’t wait to share it with you today.
To get ready I purchased a variety pack of caffeine free fruit flavored herbal tea bags. I chose this collection because I thought it would offer scents the kids could recognize and also be the most likely to produce different colors for our painting activity.
We started by using our sense of smell to make observations about the different kinds of tea. Lovey really liked all of the different scents.
Later that day I set up this invitation to create. I really had no idea how this project was going to turn out, but I knew the kids would have fun using the spray bottles. And I was sure we’d also be surprised by the results.
We used watercolor paper so that the paper would not get too wet and fall apart. Card stock would also work well. If you do try plain paper, please let me know how it turns out.
Big Buddy was the first to place arrange his tea bags. He made a T for Teapot! Then he started to spray just a little bit of water on each individual tea bag watching carefully as the tea bags slowly started to show a bit of color around the edges.
Tinker loves using the spray bottle, so she was delighted to give this a try. She focused on spraying the same bag over and over again until the color started trickling down the paper.
Lovey was the first to start moving the tea bags around the paper to see if she could get colors stamped all over the paper.
It didn’t take long before she realized she could use her sense of touch to squish the bags and get a more vibrant mix of colors. The more all of the kids squished and sprayed, the more fragrant the tea bags became. It smelled amazing!
After squishing the bags flat for a while the kids decided to squeeze the bags to watch the colors drip onto the paper. A couple of the tea bags did end up breaking, but that just added another opportunity to explore different textures with the sense of touch.
Once the kids were finished we let the pictures dry. The colors didn’t stay as vibrant, but they still smelled wonderful. This was definitely a process-based activity, not necessarily an artistic masterpiece. But it was definitely a great way to explore the senses and have a little fun painting in a unique way.
While we didn’t incorporate all five senses in our painting activity, we did include the senses of hearing and taste later in follow-up activities. Since we don’t usually drink tea or even own a tea kettle, my kids didn’t really understand that a tea kettle made a noise. So we borrowed a tea kettle to prepare tea. We used our sense of hearing to listen as the kettle was ready. Then we had the chance to taste the different varieties of tea.
**Update** I just found out Jessica from Play Learn Love also tried this activity with her kids. See what they thought of painting with tea bags here. Who’s going to try it next?