Please Pass the Salad Spinner: Preschool Art That is Just Plain Fun!


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Salad Spinner Art: In my many years of teaching, this has by far been the favorite activity on the Art Shelves in the Montessori Preschool Classroom. 

Basically, the activity consists of: 

  • a hand-crank salad spinner 
  • round paper, cut to fit inside the spinner 
  • squeeze bottles of paint
  • art mat
  • art smock (very important!)

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

If the salad spinner is large enough, then a paper plate works nicely for the round paper needed to fit inside. However, my favorite salad spinner that has worked well with young children is the type with a handle (pictured above) and it is a bit small. The teacher can pre-cut paper to fit, or you can make a cardboard circular template for the older children to cut out their own paper for the activity. (This is a great extension and very satisfying for the older children!) You can see the circle cardboard template just behind the salad spinner in the photo. 

I have found salad spinners at second hand stores and this is a great place to purchase one, since it will not be usable for spinning lettuce anymore after it is used for this art activity! 
However, I did find my favorite spinner with the handle that you can buy on line. Here is that link: Progressive Salad Spinner at Everything Kitchens I like this spinner best because it is easier for the child to control without help, and in order to hold the handle, the top has to be on securely---more success and less mess!

Once the child has put on an art smock and set up the art mat at the table, then it is time to make the project! 
First, you open the lid of the spinner and place the round paper in the bottom of the lettuce basket.
Then, you squeeze some paint onto the paper. 
I usually have 2 squeeze bottles of paint set up with this activity and if you use 2 primary colors, then you have a color-mixing activity, too!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

After, you've applied the paint that is desired for the project, then you attach the lid (make sure it is secure!) and then start spinning!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

When you open the lid again, the paint colors have blurred together to make a very fun design! It's a little like magic! You can continue to add paint and spin until you have the design you want, but I have found that the most beautiful designs result with the least amount of usually one spin turns out the best!

This activity, as is true for most art projects, usually requires some scrubbing up afterwards. With older children, I also have them clean out the salad spinner in the sink so that the activity is ready for the next person. 
Next, is scrubbing the art mat and this is one of the most satisfying activities in the Montessori classroom: SCRUBBING! Children in the Montessori environment begin at an early age to scrub...tables, chairs, art mats, outdoor toys, indoor toys and more! Art mats usually get scrubbed several times a day.

The scrubbing baskets (plastic carry-alls) are stored on a shelf in the Practical Life area of the classroom and I usually locate the Practical Life and Art Areas near each other and ALWAYS near the sink! To learn about Montessori Practical Life activities click on this link: Practical Life Scope & Sequence at Montessori Print Shop

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

As you can see by now, this Salad Spinner Art Activity has many components and little children enjoy the whole I mentioned above, there is always a waiting line for this activity and I dare not ever "retire" it from the Art shelf!

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