One day, I was looking at the book, Crafty Science by Jane Bull. It has a bunch of STEAM projects for children to create at home. I showed my son the Invisible Ink activity and he said “Let’s do that mommy.” We looked around the house and gathered the materials.
I thought this would be a great drawing and writing activity for my son. He ended up writing numbers. This is a great project to expose your child to literacy and science. If your child is learning how to read, write words that will challenge them to use phonics or sight words. The science in this project is explained at the end of this post.
Let’s Get Started!
Paintbrush or Cotton Swabs
Iron (for adult use only)
Squeeze a lemon into a bowl
Write your secret message on the paper in lemon juice using a paintbrush or cotton swab.
Draw quickly in order to check your work before it dries. It does not have to be as dark as the picture below. My son insisted on going over the numbers numerous times so he could see it.
To get the message, an adult should iron the paper with a hot iron until the message comes through
This activity may stain your iron with brown spots. This happened to me. I was able to get my iron squeaky clean by following the video below.
Why this activity Works:
This works because lemon juice is an acid.
When it is put on the paper, the acid destroys some of the paper surface.
When you heat it up with the iron, the areas with the message turn brown first.
Milk also works with this activity because it is slightly acidic.
My son, like most young kids, loves to do activities that are hands-on. We have tackled a number of building activities from playing with Legos and Magnetic Tiles to Bristol Blocks.
When I realized that we had the opportunity to make our own 3-D paint, I became excited. However, my son had to sign off on the project. When he saw that we could make our own paint from scratch, he was all for it.
I like this activity because we had all the ingredients in the kitchen. Also, it was a great opportunity to practice writing and incorporate literacy in a fun way!
So let’s talk about our exciting scientific art experiment!
How to use this project to increase your child’s reading and writing skills
The project below will provide a fun and educational hands-on experience for kids. It is called the 3-D Puffy Paint Project and can encourage children to practice writing letters and numbers. This activity can be used to create stories and during pretend play. Additionally, constantly squeezing the paint out the bottle is a great hand strengthener to prepare kids for writing.
My son created a story while doing this project. The story was about a monster who played with friends. The monster started playing with one friend and then as time went on, the amount of friends grew exponentially. By the end of the story, the monster played with over 100 friends. We learned the words exponentially, introduce and exhausted, while doing this activity.
I exposed my son to new words by retelling the story. After my son told me the story, I said the following…
Me: So you are telling me that this story is about a monster who played with one friend at the playground. Then he kept meeting more and more friends as the day went on. This means his friends grew exponentially from 1 to over 100. Right?
My Son: Right
Me: As they were playing, he became very tired or exhausted. So how did he meet all those friends?
My Son: He went up to friends and said, “My name is Monster, do you want to play?”
Me: Oh, so the monster introduced himself to the new friends, and then asked them to play.
My son: “Yes, Yes, that’s right!”
Quick Tip: Use the new vocabulary as you are casually talking to your little one so they will internalize the information.
Another way to make this project literacy based is to have your child read the directions on this post while making the puffy paint. Encourage your child to sound out or say words that they know if they are beginning to read. If they can’t read yet, help them to use the pictures in this post to show how to make the paint. Your child will be reading because they are interpreting meaning. Additionally, read the instructions to them while following along with your finger so they see that words are needed in order to make the paint.
Now Let’s Make Paint that is 3-D!
2 Tablespoons Flour (30 ml)
2 Tablespoons Salt (30 ml)
2 Tablespoons Water (30 ml)
Mix flour, salt, and water in the bowl.
Add two drops of food coloring.
Pour mixture into the squeeze bottle.
Make a few colors by following the first three steps.
Squirt lines, curves, dots, and PICTURES on the cardboard.
Make this a fun literary activity by doing the following…
Paint or draw a picture and create a story about the image.
Have the child practice writing their name.
Have the child practice writing their letters or numbers.
Writing letters and numbers is a skill that many parents and teachers ensure their children possess. My son wrote his first letter, A, at 21 months.He revealed it to me through abstract artwork that left me in shock.
Now he is four-years-old and his writing has improved tremendously. However, I like to find ways to make writing appealing and fun for him. One way to do this is through making our household, when possible, our writing canvas. This means writing in the tub with bath time crayons or writing on our screen door with window markers.
Today I will show you how we used household ingredients to write and create art. The project is called Pan Frescoes. Frescoes is painting with watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling.
In this project, we make our wet plaster with cornstarch and water! Instead of painting on a wall or ceiling, we will do it in a pan. You may also choose to do this outside on concrete. Just remember to rinse it with a water hose when done.
I am a big proponent of parents interacting and playing with their children. This is the secret of how I taught my son to write at two-years-old.
The method, In-depth learning, is what I used to teach him how to read and write. Before I give you the details, let’s answer some basic questions first.
Go to the Bottom of this Post to Access 5 Ways to Create a Desire in Children to Write
How do I encourage my child to write?
One good way to encourage your child to write is to make it fun and purposeful for kids. Build a writing activity around your child’s interest. For example, if your child likes cars then have them construct letters in sand or mud with their toy vehicles. You can also create a road with tape in the form of letters. Then have your child follow the path with the cars. If you have a child that likes dolls or stuffed animals, then help them do a role play as a teacher teaching their dolls how to write.
Below are 5 more ways to encourage kids to write…
Get a pen pal for your child to write to frequently.
Help the child write a story about a topic of their choice.
Have the child write with their favorite toy (explained above).
Encourage the child to write with their fingers through finger paint or making letters in sand.
Writing well wishes to family members…
Creating and drawing Birthday, Christmas, or Get Well Cards to Family and Friends.
How do I teach my child to write his name?
My son learned to write his name at the age of two. He first learned by seeing me write his name repeatedly during long car rides, church services, outside with sidewalk chalk and at the bottom of his art projects. He loved to trace his name with crayons after I wrote it. After seeing it done multiple times, I let him independently write the first letter of his name, then the second letter and so on.
When should a child start writing?
Children first learn to write once they have the strength to hold a crayon and scribble which is around 15 months. According to Zerotothree.org there are five stages of writing. The first stage, at 15 months – 2.5 years old, is when the child is doing random scribbling. Controlled scribbling is the second stage at 2 to 3 years old, when the child makes circles and vertical, curved, and horizontal lines. The third stage is lines and patterns, at 2.5 to 3.5 years old. Drawing pictures of objects or people is the fourth stage. In the fifth stage, children are using letters and numbers to write on their own.
My son’s brain starting processing the concept of writing around 13 months when he repeatedly observed me writing the alphabet and numbers. He was not able to physically write yet, but his brain recorded the loops, lines, and curves I made when I wrote. He wrote his first letter, A, at 21 months.
So, how did you teach your son to write at two-years- old?
There were many forms of playful methods used to teach my son to write. We still use some of the same methods and more to improve this writing skills. Below is what we did.
Play-Doh is a favorite toy in our household. I used it to mold the alphabet before my son could talk. Constantly observing how letters are formed trained his brain to understand how they are MADE. Once he started talking, he would identify a letter and it was my job to make the letters. He gained a taste of leadership because he had control of what letter I wrote. Eventually, he combined the two skills and was able to identify the letter and shape them simultaneously with Play-Doh.
Form letters with various toys and objects
Play-Doh needed its own category because we used it frequently. However, we formed letters and numbers with other toys. We collected rocks and used them to shape letters and numbers in order. Legos and Magnetic Tiles were used to build the alphabet and create silly stories. The numbers we constructed using Gears were created by widgets, connectors and interlocking bases and were accessorized by the colorful gears and crank. We formed letters and numbers with poms and made them disappear by blowing on them.
Writing in different settings
In order to keep my son’s attention during road trips, church services or appointments, I would write letters and familiar words like his name and favorite animals. I also drew various shapes so eventually he would connect them to the construction of letters and numbers. For example, the letter A is part triangle with a line in the middle and O is an oval.
He observed me writing with various colors on the doodle pad, outside with sidewalk chalk, on the window with window markers, on notebook paper, on craft paper taped to the wall and floor. While I was writing, he would scribble and make abstract art. Then one day, he wrote the letter A!
Observing the alphabet and letters in nature and the outside world
Broken crayons encourages children to pinch it between their thumb and index finger. As a result, he now holds the writing utensil correctly.
Another method is to use the alligator trick. Tell your child to hold their dominant hand like an alligator’s mouth. Have the child open and close the alligator’s mouth like they want to eat something. Then help the child hold the pencil like their hand or alligator mouth is closed on the pencil. The last step is to have your child bend their fingers a bit to grab the pencil.
Put it all together
My son was able to write independently at two-years-old. He loves writing his own thank you notes and birthday cards to family and friends. We are still improving his writing skills through play and fun activities. We have found that opportunities to write are endless and with this fun journey we will continue to move forward.