How Homemade Scented Paint Can Help Children Learn

This do-it-yourself project gives children a multi-sensory learning experience.

little girl with paint on hands and face
Geri Lavrov/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Gelatin paint is a multi-sensory teaching tool for children with learning disabilities in special education programs or in mainstream classrooms. The painting project gives kids a chance to branch out from traditional classroom lessons.

Here's an easy recipe for scented gelatin pain that's designed for preschoolers or kids in the primary grades of elementary school.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • Small containers with lids
  • Measuring cup
  • Warm water
  • Unsweetened gelatin mix
  • Stirring sticks or spoons
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper for artwork
  • Old newspapers
  • Painting smocks or aprons

Follow the instructions below to make a small batch of scented gelatin paint for your kids to use at home or a larger batch for the classroom.

How to Make Scented Gelatin Paint 

Gather these ingredients for each color of paint you plan to make:

  • One small, shallow container (wide-mouth baby food jars or similar-sized containers work well)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 box of gelatin mix (any flavor will work including unsweetened varieties)
  • A spoon or sticks for stirring, one for each container (ice cream/Popsicle sticks or small spoons work well)

Instructions:

  1. Pour the water into the container.
  2. Carefully add the gelatin mix. Stir well until mix is dissolved (the intensity of the colors depends on the amount of food coloring you use). Save unused powdered mix for future use.
  3. Place lids on the containers (keep in mind that the paint will thicken over time and eventually become too thick to paint with).

How to Use Scented Gelatin Paint

Using finger paints as a multi-sensory teaching tool is a great way to introduce color concepts, shapes, alphabet letters, sight words, and free-form artwork.

Gelatin paint works best when used to color the large open areas of your child's drawings. Kids can use markers and crayons to add fine details to their artwork.

Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:

  1. Apply the scented gelatin paint using paintbrushes (gelatin can stain fingers).
  2. You can paint on any type of paper. When your masterpiece is finished, lay the paper flat until it is completely dry.
  3. Have kids wear smocks to prevent stains on clothing and wash hands thoroughly when you're done with your creations.

Your painting will smell fruity for a few days because of the gelatin mix, but resist the urge to have a bite or a lick! While the ingredients in scented gelatin paint are edible, don't let your kids eat it—especially since it won't taste very good!

Tips and Tricks

  1. For best results, make only enough gelatin paint to use the same day. The paint will thicken over time and become unusable.
  2. Gelatin can easily stain fingers, clothing, and anything else it comes into contact with. Gelatin mix should not be used for finger painting. To prevent staining in your home, cover work areas with old newspaper.
  3. When you're looking for a spot to show off your child's artwork, pick a place that's at "nose level" to make sure they can see their paintings.
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Article Sources
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  1. National Center for Learning Disabilities. Learning Disabilities and the Arts. 2019.