Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. – Marion C. Garretty
Why make perfume? Do your children love playing with water and anything else that involves pouring, scooping, dripping and stirring? Perfume making provides some great sensory and fine motor opportunities. When stirring their concoctions children get to squeeze, pour, scoop, smell and explore properties like texture, flexibility and fluidity. Plus, it makes for a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. Thanks to one of our supermoms for sparking the idea and helping us with tips on perfume making!
Why is sensory play important?
Infants and young toddlers build their knowledge of the world mostly through physical interaction with objects (grasping, touching, putting everything in their mouth) and through exploring with their senses (touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, moving, developing balance and body awareness etc.). This kind of sensory exploration is crucial to the brain development – it helps to build nerve connections so we can coordinate experiences, process and respond to sensory information appropriately. For example, young children may find it difficult to play when there are other distracting things going on in their environment but over time most children learn how to take in and process different sensory information at the same time (sensory integration). To focus our attention on particular sensations while tuning out others is a skill we need to be able to focus and to complete more complex learning tasks in future. We can help build these nerve connections when we provide children with opportunities to use their senses.
This project is inspired by hello Wonderful. When researching how to make perfumes I came across their blog and found this lovely post about kid made perfumes that seems to have inspired many little perfume makers. We pretty much followed their suggestions (head over to their website to see a full list of the materials) on perfume making. Instead of the clear spray bottles we used these smaller glass perfume bottles which came with labeling stickers and a funnel. Additionally we added some drops of vanilla extract for the alcohol and used bottled water only to preserve our perfumes longer. You could also use a few drops of pure rubbing alcohol but I was afraid it would ruin the smell of the other oils and herbs.
It makes a real difference how you set out your art materials and whether or not a project looks inviting to children. I usually put much thought and preparation in how I display and arrange art materials. Try to set out just a few materials that invite further exploration, make sure the children can reach everything without your help and look if what you provide sparks their curiosity enough so they sit down and start exploring on their own.
I’ve set out scissors, a variety of flowers and herbs, bowls with citrus fruit and lavender seeds, a few squeeze bottles filled with water as well as a mason jar for each child to stir up their concoctions. It would be so fun to go on a nature walk, explore botanics and look what plants are blooming to collect the one’s that smell good. We live in the mountains where spring comes late so we only picked sage, needle tree branches and pinecones.
I first explained the process of perfume making, how we’re going to cut up herbs, squeeze citrus fruit and then mix them up with water until it smells really good. Most children love working with scissors anyways but getting to cut something different than paper with a very different and interesting texture such as flowers and herbs was definitely delightful.
Lot’s of picking, squeezing, stirring, smelling, dripping, comparing, planning (“that smells good, what did you use?”), coordinating, helping each other out, strenghtening those finger muscles and fine motor skills.
We used Jasmin and Rose essential oils and a pipette to add them to our concoctions, just 3-5 drops. Make sure that the children add the alcohol or vanilla extract carefully without getting it in their eyes, 3-5 drops as well. Using droppers is by the way perfect to practice the pincer grip that will later be used to hold a pencil and write.
When everything has been thoroughly stirred and smells good, it’s time to help the children funnel their perfume into the tiny bottles.
We invented names for our perfumes, made little labels on sticker paper, beaded wire to wrap around our perfumes and attached personalized messages. Most of the children wanted to write “I love you Mama” which I ended up writing on a big paper that I placed on the table for everyone to see so the children could copy it if they wanted to. I love when a project incorporates basic writing skills and aligns with interests the children already have!
To make the personalized messages we used watercolor paper that I had already attached to a wire and precut in small circles which allowed the children to work fairly independently. On a table I’ve set out Sharpies to draw a picture for their mommies, write their name or a personalized message. Once done, they would carry their paper to another table where I’ve set out liquid watercolors (just mix a few drops with water until the color is bright enough) which the children used to color right over the Sharpie drawings that still shine through.
Such a sweet Mother’s Day gift! Aren’t they just adorable?
There’s so many wonderful approaches to perfume making. To learn more about it, follow the links to these inspiring blogs:
Happy Mother’s Day!