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Fun Friction Finger Paints


Scoop slides on the slippery marina bottom until he learns that aggregate helps his wheels grip the floor. Experiment with smooth and sandy finger paints and feel the difference a little texture makes.

Learning Goals

  • Sensory Exploration
  • Being Resourceful
  • Following Directions
  • Art


  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/3 Cup Sand (substitute with salt if you don’t have sand)
  • Food Coloring
  • Whisk/Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Small Containers
  • Paper


1. Make the finger paint
This recipe is so easy, your child can make the paint with you! In a large bowl mix the flour and water thoroughly with a whisk until it is the consistency of pancake batter.

Divide the paint base into smaller containers. Add a few drops of food coloring to the containers to create the paint colors of your choice. Add 1 tablespoon of sand to each paint color that you wish to make textured - you may even choose to make one smooth and one textured paint for each color.

NOTE: Mix only the amount of paint you wish to use in one sitting. This paint does not keep well as the flour thickens over time.



2. Paint
Place the paints on a table along with paper. Allow your child to explore finger painting with the two different types of paint textures.They will feel a difference between the smooth paints and the sandy, textured versions.


Talk About It

Ask your child to describe the differences they feel between the two kinds of paints. Which one do they prefer? Which one glides on the paper best? You can use this opportunity to talk about the concept of friction. Friction is the force that exists between two materials as the slide against each other. There is little friction with the smooth paint but your fingers will feel resistance in the gliding action with the sandy paint. In construction, the friction of materials used for floors are tested and rated for what designers call “slip resistance.” 

Take It Further

Ask your child to take note of the texture and friction of the different floor surfaces they walk on throughout the day. What differences do they notice when walking on wood, concrete, carpet, and tiles? If you have wood floors at home, ask your child to put on socks and see if they feel a difference in friction between their feet and the floor while wearing socks. Tell them to shuffle or slide across the floor to see what a difference the smooth fabric makes to the slip resistance between their feet and the wood.

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