Shaving cream is an awesome cheap and easily accessible resource for learning S.T.E.M. skills in the early grades, but, first off, what is S.T.E.M.? S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It is the fancy acronym that's popping up everywhere to describe a national push towards preparing children to accomplish great things in a high tech world. In the younger grades S.T.E.M. is about introducing hands on, integrated activities that build skills like spatial reasoning, logical thinking, and problem solving. Because of shaving cream's special properties, it's a great way to get kids thinking about and exploring the world around them.
Shaving cream is a not a solid, liquid, or gas; it's a colloid. Colloids occur when bits of a solid, liquid, or gas are suspended in a liquid. In shaving cream, tiny air bubbles are mixed in with liquid soap. Some other common colloids are: whipped cream (air bubbles in liquid cream) hair gel (polymers in water) and ice cream (ice crystals, air, and fat in cream). Because shaving cream exists in this state, there are a wide range of things that kids can do with it. Plus... it's just really fun to play with!
Add a little food coloring and shaving cream can be used for painting! Kids can make Marbled Rainbows as demonstrated by The Chocolate Muffin Tree.
Grab some manipulatives and shaving cream can be used for building! Shaving cream becomes the glue for a tower, as shown on Beansprouts Preschool.
Add baby powder to shaving cream and it suddenly becomes fluffy moldable snow. Mix it with cornstarch to create foaming clay. Add baking soda and it becomes moldable snow that explodes with a drop of vinegar. Add glue and it becomes puffy paint, as shown on Growing A Jeweled Rose.
Because shaving cream is a colloid, other liquids can fall through it. Using that property, shaving cream can be used to create clouds with real falling rain!
Encourage your kids to play with mixing shaving cream with different materials to see what happens. Let them play with it on the sidewalk, on mirrors, and on windows, because the best part about shaving cream is that it's made out of soap so cleanup is always easy!
What are your thoughts on shaving cream. Love it for it's many uses? Hate it for it's tendency to be used by small children for body art? Got a good idea for using it that we didn't come up with? Let us know!