Puffy Paint Tracing Cards

June 10, 2012

My daughter is showing an interest in "writing" these days. She has been scribbling "emails" to her friends with a pen on a blank piece of paper. I decided to do some pre-writing activities to work on Sophia's hand strength and dexterity. By tracing the the raised lines, zigzags and curves, these cards allow her to practice creating fluid hand movements from her arm and shoulder as well as learning to control hand and finger movements. It is such a wonderful sensory activity since the puffy lines create a tactile learning experience.

To make tracing cards, we cut up cardboard into long rectangular strips. My husband and daughter painted a coat of Gesso Canvas Primer over the cardboard, but it is not necessary to do so.  


To make the puffy paint, mix together 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 cup water in a bowl until smooth. Next, add your food coloring. Finally, add 1 more tablespoon of water to the mixture. I found this helps make a better consistency for squeezing. The amount food coloring you add depends upon how deep you want your colors to be.  You can start with a few drops and add more if desired. Sophia and I used red, blue and yellow to mix purple, orange and green for a total of six colors.  

Add the mixture to a squeeze bottle. We found these in the baking section of our local craft store. Plastic Ziploc  bags also work.  See the Symmetrical Creatures activity on how to make a plastic squeeze bag.

Make sure you store the puffy paint containers in the refrigerator when you are not using them or they will start to smell and grow mold.  We have never kept ours for more than two days. The next day, we just shook the bottles to mix the ingredients together again.

I created four cards for this activity. Once the tracing cards dried (which took 24 hours), I had Sophia hold the card with the non-dominant hand while tracing the pattern with the index finger on the dominant hand. I began with a simple line and then moved onto the more challenging curves. Sometimes, I ask her to try to use her other hand. This is a great way to help nurture fine motor control on the non-dominant hand.

While the tracing cards were drying (I opted to let them air dry), my daughter used the rest of the puffy paint to create beautiful designs. 

We placed her puffy paint creations in the  microwave for about 15-30 seconds to create a textured effect with deeper, more vibrant colors.

This is what the puffy paint will look like if you allow it to air dry for a day or two. The surface is smoother but it cracks easily. The colors are also more subdued.

My husband also joined in on the fun and we created another funky cardboard art project that looks very cool on the wall. We simply glued the dried cardboard panels (once they had dried) onto a large piece of cardboard. The moisture in the puffy paint caused the edges of the panels to curl, so we just placed glue in the center of the panels to attach them. This was such a fun family art project!


More activities you might like

Sensory Stones
Bread Charms
Paper Towel Butterflies