Exploring the Senses~Painting with Tea Bags

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.

Explore the Sense of Smell with Tea Bags

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.

Invitation to Create-Painting with Tea Bags

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.

Paint with Tea Bags

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.

Toddler Messy Play-Painting with Tea Bags

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.

Sense of Smell-Painting with Tea Bags

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.

Explore the 5 Senses with Kids Painting with Tea Bags

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!

Squishing Tea Bags- Sensory PaintingAfter 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.

Painting with Tea Bags

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? 🙂

A Full Week of 5 Senses Lesson Plans

Continue learning about the five senses with our printable lesson plan set. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provide different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.


Get Your Copy

Home Preschool Five Senses Theme Lesson Plans (in our shop or on TpT)

Preschool Classroom Five Senses Theme Lesson Plans (in our shop or on TpT)


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  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. We used this with flower stencils and it was very beautiful and kept the children busy for a good amount of time.

  2. We should definitely try this! Featured you at Mom’s Library!

  3. Awesome!!! Thanks for linking this up to Tuesday Tots. Just letting you know I’m featuring it this coming week on TT on Learn with Play at home. 🙂

  4. I love the idea of painting with tea bags, when I saw the title I was thinking you were going to be painting with tea you made, which got me thinking of how to do that.

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

  5. Loving your Discover & Explore themes — such a great group of bloggers teaming together to bring creative, educational ideas together in one place! Thanks so much for linking up to After School!

    • Thank you, Anna! We really want the linky to be a great resource for others, so I appreciate your feedback.

  6. I’ve been looking for other ways to maximize used tea bags (apart from putting it on my eyes for relaxation) and this idea sounds wonderful! What kind of paper did you use so that it won’t break too easily?

    • I used watercolor paper, but you might also try card stock. Sorry that I forgot to mention that in the original post.

  7. This was our 5 senses project for the week.
    We also learned Barney’s five senses song.

  8. I’ve never thought of doing this, what a lovely idea. (Being English, I drink a lot of black tea, so I thought at first this was going to be about aging paper or treasure maps with those kind of teabags… a whole other activity!) I can just imagine the pleasure of squishing the bags to release the colour – mmm!
    Lucinda {via Science Sunday}

    • Yes, that would be another fun activity. I’ve tried that in my kindergarten classes, but this was definitely a different experience. Thanks for stopping by from Science Sunday.

  9. This is wonderful! I love it. Never thought to use tea bags for art! We have a playdate coming up soon and I think I’ll use this activity.

  10. Thanks for sharing! I’m pinning this to my Sensory Experiences board 🙂

    I found your post at Science Sunday.

  11. What a super activity! I’ll bet it smelled heavenly. I wouldn’t have imagined you’d get all that beautiful colour out of a teabag!

    • Thanks, Jackie! I really had no idea how it would turn out either. That was part of the fun! Now I’m interested in experimenting with other kinds of tea bags to see what other colors we can discover.

  12. Just love this! Thanks for sharing on the Friday Flash Blog on The Jenny Evolution. I’m definitely pinning this 🙂

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution

  13. I love this. I found you on SITSSharefest, and I pinned your post to the SITS board, but I am also liking so my friends can find it on FB. Love it. Fun idea!!

  14. This is an amazing idea! I would love to do this with my son… and get him to make some background papers for my mixed media work. Everyone is happy!!! Thanks so much! x

  15. Annette Richmond says:

    You come up with such creative amazing fun ideas. I’m trying this next week! Thank you so much, my LO’s are loving all these new activities

    • Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me that you took the time to share. I’m glad some of our activities are coming in handy, and I hope you have fun with this one–we loved it!

  16. Great minds think alike! We tried this earlier in the summer and my kids had a blast. It truly is a sensory experience! My kids also enjoyed breaking open the tea bags and painting with the loose tea. I love your idea of using spray bottles. We will have to try that next time 🙂

    • Wow! Great minds do think alike. I hadn’t seen your version, but I do love how the kids embraced painting with the loose tea as well. And I’m glad to see someone else has also tested out the idea with success. Because of Google’s rules about SEO and links in the comments I had to remove your link, but I did link to you from my post above.

      • Sorry about the link in your comments. Didn’t know about that SEO rule. Always learning! Just trying to share a different take on the project. Thanks for the link in your post. Not necessary, but I appreciate it 🙂

  17. Amazing! I have a grown up artist friend who once did some work with tea bags—these paintings are legit! 🙂

  18. What a great idea – and I have herbal tea bags we don’t use and this is a perfect way to use them.

  19. I must have known subconsciously about the 5 senses theme – as I JUST posted about it today!

  20. This is so neat! You always have such original ideas, Shaunna! We have lots of tea in many flavours so we’ll definitely have to give this a try.

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