Sensory Art: Scratch 'n' Sniff Painting

  • 01 of 03

    Scratch 'n' Sniff Painting: A Sensory Art Activity

    Mini Jelly Dessert
    Photography by Jeremy Villasis. Philippines./Moment/Getty Images

    Scratch 'n' sniff painting is a great sensory art activity that appeals not only to the visual side of your child but to his olfactory sense as well. Sensory play is so important for children, especially those with special needs, including processing disorders or autism spectrum disorder. But even for parents of typically developing kids, it's a good idea to have a few tricks up your sleeve!

    Scratch 'n' sniff paint is easy to make with ingredients you may already have at home....MORE (They can also be easily found at the grocery store.) There are a couple of different recipes to make the paints. Most either create paints with Kool-Aid drink mix or from Jello crystals. We like the standard Jello, glue and water recipe for a couple of reasons. The first is that since the recipe uses so little of the Jello, we get dessert out of the deal, too. Secondly, I've found that the paints that use Kool-Aid drink mix create stains that are much more difficult to get out of clothing. The Jello crystals also provide a tactile component that's lacking with Kool-Aid watercolors.

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  • 02 of 03

    Make Scratch and Sniff Jello Paint

    Food Coloring
    Food Coloring. Wikimedia Commons

    What You’ll Need

    • food coloring
    • small cups
    • Jello in various colors and flavors
    • white school glue
    • water
    • paintbrushes

    Making the Jello paint is simple. Combine 1 tsp. of flavored gelatin with 1 tsp. of warm water, making sure to use a separate cup for each color. You may add a drop or two of food coloring to the mixture to brighten the color.

    Then, add 3 to 4 drops of glue—just enough to make the mixture spreadable with a paintbrush, but not so much that it globs up. The glue will help the gelatin granules...MORE stick to the paper.


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  • 03 of 03

    Paint Your Scratch 'n' Sniff Picture

    Paint Brushes
    Paint Brushes. Sean Gallup / Staff / Getty Images

    You can use the paint to make any type of picture you want, but it tends to work better if your child is painting within the confines of a printed coloring page. You can use a rainbow or download the pdf version of these flowers in a flowerpot.

    Whatever you choose to do, make sure to print the page on cardstock or heavy paper. The paint is thick and heavy, and your children may have a hard time not ripping regular paper when using it.

    To paint with the Scratch 'n' Sniff paint, simply dip a...MORE paintbrush into the desired color and dab, not swipe, it where you want it. If your child doesn't think it will be "smelly" enough, have him sweep the bottom of the cup to get all the granules before he paints on his paper.

    Once your child's painting is complete, lay it flat to dry. This may take a few hours. When it's dry, all he has to do is gently rub his thumb or finger tip over the rough granules on the page to reactivate the smell.