Everyday shave cream play

My students have been asking me to pull out the shave cream so they could play with it and last week, we had a shave cream extravaganza….

You can really put anything in shave cream and it will be a fun experience. For example, we were talking about bugs on one day and so the children spread little plastic bugs out all over the table and the we covered them all up with shave cream…

And now it was time to dig in and start looking for all those bugs.  The children used tweezers and their hands to hunt for the bugs…

You really don’t have to add anything to shave cream to make it a fun experience. My students will sit and play in it for the longest time but I always like to mix it up a bit.  Another way we mixed the shave cream experience up was by adding a tray of water. It was just a small tray so the children could rinse off their bugs but the children loved how the water changed the feel of the shave cream to an even more silky or creamy texture…

I don’t think we ever did find those bugs.  I know that they are in there some where! Eventually, the children found all the bugs and we set them aside for one more adventure. Since we were already elbow deep in shave cream, I decided we might as well try at least one more thing that I had been thinking about…

So we added a bottle of clear water beads to our shave cream play.  I have a ton of waterbeads that I picked up at the beginning of the year from the Dollar Tree so this was a good chance to try a different kind of play with them…

I was only planning on adding a few water beads but the children talked me into adding the entire bottle to our creamy, watered down, now bugless shave cream play…

Talk about texture overload! The children loved it – the waterbeads added just that right touch of texture to the shave cream play. They were still smooth and soft but they were bumpy too.  Perhaps next time we will add colorful waterbeads to our shave cream play. The clear ones pretty much got lost inside the shave cream so you couldn’t see them but you could definitely feel them…

As fun as our shave cream play was without color, we decided to finish off our play by adding a little color. So I simply squirted out a few lines of paint on top of the shave cream so the children could mix it in…

The nice thing about shave cream play is that everything, and I mean everything, comes out much cleaner at the end of our day. The table was a bright white, the paint tubes were not tacky anymore, our bugs were now germ free, and our hands probably haven’t been this clean since the last time we played in shave cream…

So for those of you who are going to inevitably write me and tell me how some higher up authority that has no name that you can identify and probably doesn’t work in an early childhood classroom and doesn’t trust early childhood teachers to handle shave cream responsibly and thinks that the risks are greater then the benefits and thinks that all kids will just eat it has told you through some sort of written policy rather than walking in your classroom and observing the benefits that you can’t use shave cream in your classroom, please accept my sincerest apology for sharing the fun we had today. Since my kids do have a say as to what goes on in my classroom, we enjoyed our shave cream extravaganza!

Okay, perhaps the paragraph above wasn’t polite but I get the same questions or the same push back every time I write about shave cream that it worries me and exhausts me so please don’t write me and tell me that you can’t use it. Write whoever is telling you that rule and invite them to come into your classroom and observe the children at play with shave cream and then while they are standing there – offer them a handful of shave cream too and invite them to join in and play. Who knows, they might just have second thoughts!

At the end of the day, the children helped clean up the tables and they rinsed off their hands and even the water beads rinsed off beautifully through a strainer. I put the water beads back into the jar (they are now cleaner then ever) for another day…

By |2012-05-06T18:00:44+00:00May 6th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. crystal@growingajeweledrose May 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t have said it better myself Deborah. I couldn’t believe how many people had negative things to say about my little ones playing with shaving cream, one of our favorite materials. Looks like the children had lots of fun! We have added water beads to shaving cream before, and it is quite a sensory experience 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 6, 2012 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      I think folks are so focused have a hard time figuring out what the benefits are when all they can see is the mess or the risks. But the benefits, in my mind, are huge and my class are experts at shave cream play:)

  2. Stories and Children May 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    I love putting shaving cream out for children to play with. It’s so versatile and can be used for so many sensory activities – including in the bath … for learning to spell and write. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      I agree – it is a wonderful sensory tool that can be used for so many kinds of learning.

  3. Cindy May 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    This kind of play is always a huge hit in our classroom. The only issue I have had is the smell….it gives me a headache! We switched to a children’s foam soap for play and now everyone is happy! Thanks for continuing to inspire us. Love, love, love your blog. It has inspired us to start one for our own classroom.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      I am so excited you have started your own blog for the classroom. It is such a wonderful way to inform and share with parents too!

  4. Shane May 7, 2012 at 1:23 am - Reply

    Just continue with your fantastic work and just don’t mind the negative things you hear or read regarding the methods you use. And I can see that you’re students are really having fun. Thanks for sharing!

  5. anna May 7, 2012 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Very very nice!
    We did the same ..but with colours…
    take a look…

  6. Kimira May 7, 2012 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Deborah, dos it irritate the fingers?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 7, 2012 at 10:04 am - Reply

      Hi Kimira,
      I am sure, as with any soap product, that shave cream could bother hands that are sensitive. I have not had any children leave with irritated skin or hands to date.

      • Kimira May 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm

        We have done soap sculpting and stuff with kiddy soap, i always assumed that shaving cream, being an adult product s stronger. Maybe I should give it a test try,

      • Katie May 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        Hi Kimira,
        I have had some kids that the shaving cream caused a rash, but I switched to sensitive skin shaving cream with no problems. Another bonus, it doesn’t have as strong of an odor 🙂

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm

        Great tip Katie!

      • Kimira May 12, 2012 at 9:34 am

        got a pack on today’s grocery trip

  7. Diana May 7, 2012 at 8:21 am - Reply

    I love the additional shaving cream activities – my kiddos love playing with it! I never thought to add water beads & am gonna try it this week!

  8. Carrie May 7, 2012 at 8:37 am - Reply

    It’s the biggest mess but the kids love it soooooo much even without added items. Sensory experiences like this are so important for young children as it is calming for those who have a tendency to get wound up. Plus all of the added academic skills of fine motor, gross motor, literacy (words and talking galore!), science exploration and more that I’m drawing a blank on.

  9. Kristine May 7, 2012 at 9:54 am - Reply

    I always use shaving cream, adding water beads was a brillant idea!
    I was actually surprised that you get negative feedback about it. But there are always those who say “you can’t do that!!” Lisa Murphy (the Ooey Goey Lady) calls the unnamed authorities the Wolves and has a whole handout about how to deal with them. I always get in “trouble” for allowing children to go without shoes, for having hammers in the classroom, and for bringing in my juicer, hot plate or blender (as a teacher I always use appropriate supervision)! You must do these activities, but you are so right that you need the trust of your families, and others who are involved in making decisions for your classroom.

  10. Vicky May 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    You are so fun! Can I be in your class. You have given enough shaving cream ideas to last for some time. The dollar store sells lots of little plastic bugs and animals and they would be perfect to hide. Thanks for the inspiration. Pinning this! Vicky from http://www.messforless.net

  11. Sarah May 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I love using shaving cream and I have the attitude that if I want to do anything in my classroom I will always go ahead and do it and apologize later if necessary. About the water beads: I love them and I tried to use them in the classroom, once, in the water table with water, and it was a disaster. They went all over the floor and I lost about 1/2 of them. How do you keep them contained? Obviously, in shaving cream, this is not a problem, and I intend to try them this way, but in other media, how do you keep them contained?

  12. Janet T. May 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Have you pressed a piece of paper onto the colors when they’re on the shave cream? Just swirl the colors around a little bit first. It’s the best way yet to get marbled paper.

  13. Amanda May 9, 2012 at 6:48 am - Reply

    We’ve done water beads in shaving cream too, and it was so much fun! I love how you incorporated so much into the shaving cream play. I would love to be a kid in your classroom!

    I’m going to feature this on Friday during The Weekly Kid’s Co-op. Come by on Friday to check it out. http://www.dirtandboogers.blogspot.com

  14. Liz Hallberg May 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    How funny, we have been having fun with shaving cream over here for about 2 weeks now. We’ve painted with it, had fun with it on the table in the classroom, and added it to our outdoor sensory table with water beads and cups. It is always a fabulous sensory activity for the kids. By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed your words to “the higher up authority with no name.” When I worked at a Preschool in Phoenix I often dealt with that very same person, and often over shaving cream! ;D

  15. Joy May 12, 2012 at 2:40 am - Reply

    I love this post and the pictures you shared. I let my children explore shaving cream a couple times and it was fun. We used it on trays and it wasn’t *too* messy. Besides that, it’s easy to clean, and as you said, makes everything cleaner. I like the idea of allowing it to cover the entire table. Did you find the children’s clothes got really messy? If so, was it easy to clean and quick to dry? Inspired by this post, I definitely want to have shaving cream play again soon, adding things like plastic spiders and water beads.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 12, 2012 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Hi Joy, I put large t-shirts over the children’s clothes so they didn’t have to worry about getting shave cream on their clothes:)

  16. Stacey Farrell May 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah, what an amazing experience. I love the way the play kept extending. I am doing a placement for school and this is fabulsous. Thanks.

  17. Cat May 25, 2012 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Could you tell me what water beads are? Thanks for the idea, it sounds like a lot of fun for my toddler!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 26, 2012 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Hi Cat,
      I will blog about them this week because I have had several ask me this question.


      • Paige June 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

        Cat – you can get water beads at a local Dollar Tree, if there is one near you. When they start out, they are SUPER tiny (like you could fit several on your pinky nail) but as they absorb the water, the get about as big as marbles! They are awesome, although instructions say not to touch them, but I’ve seen so many blogs where kids are touching them so I am assuming they are safe. I’ll have to get some more 🙂

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