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If a preschooler could name his favorite art activities, painting might be the first choice! Painting can be done at a table, on the floor, on the wall, or at an easel—with different kinds and sizes of paper. Think about making scented paint to use with your preschoolers.

This recipe is from my friend, Beth, in Louisiana who used it in a conference about the senses with the statement “certain scents stimulate learning, thinking, mental alertness, and creativity.”

Supplies for Scented Paint:

  1. scented tempera paint—dry tempera, kitchen extracts such as lemon, orange, or peppermint/water/paint containers
  2. scented finger paint—dry tempera, scented hand lotion/plastic tray
  3. scented watercolors–powdered unsweetened drink mix (Kool Aid®)/warm water/muffin pan


  1. Scented tempera paint: Add a kitchen extract to dry tempera (any color—or use color to matchextract). Place mixture in paint container; add water as needed.
  2. Scented finger paint: Guide a child to use a craft stick or fingers to mix dry tempera paint and scented hand lotion to enjoy finger painting on a plastic tray. When child has finished painting, press paper on paint to print/allow to dry.
  3. Use a muffin pan to mix different “watercolors.” Mix 1 tablespoon of dry unsweetened Kool Aid® with 1 tablespoon warm water. Provide paper, small brushes or cotton swabs for painting. When the paint dries, scratch and sniff!

Teaching Tips:

  • Enjoy watching boys and girls mix and use the scented paint. Remind preschoolers that God made you. Say: “You can use your nose to smell the paint. Thank You, God, for noses.”
  • Think about a brain fact that Beth shared: “The only sense that sends information directly to the brain is our sense of smell.”

Printable Version


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