Get ready for Toddler Activities: Spice Painting



(idea source: learnwithplayathome)

Well, I self-indulgently included the sunglasses photo because she’s just so cute and proudly showing me her artwork.

I had seen “spice painting” on Pinterest and finally got around to doing it with Pen Elaine after putting it on my activity rotation list. We’ve done colorful yogurt painting before, but this felt like the next level. It was very quick to put together and a great go-to, especially to talk about the smells and flavors of various seasons or holidays (not that we talked about that this time).

Spice Painting


  1. Assortment of spices (just a few dashes of each)
  2. Water (addition of corn starch optional) OR yogurt
  3. Muffin tray to hold various “paints” (mini-muffin tin works best)
  4. Paper (can be trash, e.g. junk mail/envelopes, we re-used some mess-free fingerpaint paper)
  5. (optional) medicine dropper
  6. Paintbrush

Setup: 5/10 This does require a bit of setup, but it’s fast and easy and can include your toddler helper if you want. First, I sprinkled some spices in wells of a mini-muffin tin. I tried to use as many different colors as possible, and I avoided any hot & spicy ones (like no chili pepper). Then, I added a spoonful of cornstarch and some water. (I thought I’d remembered seeing the idea to add cornstarch to thicken, but I don’t know if it made any difference). I just held the tray under a slow-moving water spout, but I probably had too much water – next time, I’ll bring out a medicine dropper and let Pen Elaine put in a few drops of water to each spice (thanks to Natalie for this idea!) or I may add yogurt instead of water. I put an apron on Pen Elaine and sat her down at our craft table (table covered with old shower curtain) for easy cleanup. On top of the shower curtain, I laid out a sheet of aluminum foil, on top of which I placed the muffin tin in the middle with a piece of paper on either side. I also got out a paintbrush for her.

Entertainment: 10/10 She loved this activity! First, she just did some painting; then, I told her to smell the paints and her creation; then, I told her she could TASTE the paint. Pen Elaine is a chronic mouther/taster, so she was extremely excited to find her mommy telling her to go ahead and taste something instead of telling her “not in your mouth” as is my usual mantra. She started dipping her finger in each mini-muffin spot and tasting the “paint,” then she would declare it “good’ or “tasty” or “spicy” and have to spit it out of her mouth as quickly as possible. Clearly, I was very entertained as well, and it was fun to smell her artwork with her – it still smelled like cloves and cinnamon after it dried.

Education: 9/10 This activity was very sensory, and we don’t do a lot of sensory play, so this was a good one for us. As we repeat this activity, I’ll talk to her about what the different spices are named and can build from there to when we use them, e.g. seasons, holidays, recipes. Also, since we used a paintbrush for painting, this has the potential to be a fine motor skill play, especially as we start to paint specific shapes or letters.

Cleanup: 6/10 The cleanup was easy, thanks to the prep work, and all wiped up with a wet cloth or wipe. Due to the spitting out of the “spicy” paints, I did have to change Pen Elaine’s shirt, even though she was wearing an apron. The muffin tin rinsed right out, and I stuck it in the dishwasher.


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