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Salt Painting

In this make-and-take activity, students use the absorbency of salt to make textured watercolour paintings.

Salt is a desiccant - that means it loves to absorb or "soak up" water. This is why salty foods make you thirsty; they absorb water out of the tissues in your body and leave you thirsty for more water.

These activities are part of Science World’s Big Science For Little Hands program. They were developed and tested with preschool and kindergarten educators. Some of the activities are done in stations.

Mysterious Mixtures PDF from Big Science For Little Hands.


  • Create artwork with different textures and patterns using salt and watercolour paint.

  • Observe and understand the interaction between the salt and watercolour paint.


  • Per Class or Group:
    watercolour paints
    paint brushes
    containers/shakers for salt (1 per student)

Key Questions

  • What happens to the paint when you sprinkle salt on it?
  • What does your painting look like when you shake the salt off it?
  • Are there lighter spots on your painting when you shake the salt off? How do you think they got there?

What To Do

  1. Start painting a picture. When you have done a little bit, sprinkle a little bit of salt over your painting then watch what happens.
  2. When your painting is completely dry, shake off the salt.


  • More Art: The lighter spots that the salt crystals leave behind can be used as snow in a winter scene or stars in a night scene.