Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

I’m pretty open about the fact that these days, I rarely set up paint play for the kids. It was much more common occurrence before Rocky came along. These days it’s watercolours all the way! They’re so easy to set up and clean up, I just can’t resist. But Pebble misses her REAL paint, her sloppy, slide-across-the-page paint. Last week she asked if we could get the paints out I said ‘yes’. She almost did a double take!

Rocky hasn’t had much chance to explore these paints before, so we set up tray of paints, some paint brushes, some paper and I left them to it stood nearby to make sure Rocky didn’t eat it or tip it on his head. The paper was very quickly abandoned in favour of smearing the paint across the old coffee table that we use for outdoor art and play. Finger painting, hand painting, belly, elbow and feet painting!

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and PreschoolersTips for Paint Play with Toddlers and PreschoolersTips for Paint Play with Toddlers and PreschoolersTips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

At times it got a little crazy. Rocky decided halfway through that he’d like to play with the space hopper… while still covered in wet paint. Then he stumbled around the backyard and landed hands first on the BBQ, leaving his sticky wet paint mark on it’s cover. But apart from that we did ok – we got messy without getting MESSY!

After some fun with smearing, Pebble turned back to her paper and starting printing. She also made some paint resist art work on the coffee table by splodging, smearing and slopping paint on top of a piece of paper on the table, then pulling the paper back to reveal a perfectly rectangle space beneath.

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Once the kids were getting tired of the painting we added a big squirt (and then another and then another) of dish washing liquid and turned the hose onto the table. Their excitement was renewed as the paint frothed and soaped and bubbled. They played together until the table was all clean, then played in the suds as they gurgled in the grass. Then I threw both kids in the bath and scrubbed them clean! Here are my tips for happy paint play with toddlers and preschoolers:

Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers Tips for Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Tips for Paint Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers

  1. dress in old clothes (that includes you too!)
  2. distract the kids with something else and set up all the equipment before you invite them to play
  3. have a bucket of water and an old towel ready for clean up (or play near a hose)
  4. remove anything from the area that you don’t want to get covered in paint (including space hoppers!)
  5. breathe! Relax! Let it go! Mess is good!
  6. make cleaning up part of the play and get the kids to help
  7. go straight in to the bath after play and get scrubbed up
  8. distract the kids some more while you clean up yourself and the rest of the mess if needed (a snack and a pile of books or a favourite TV show work for me).

Do you embrace messy play? Or do you avoid it like the plague?

Painting Nature with Kids

 Painting Nature With KidsI think most kids are naturally attuned to nature, don’t you? Pebble (4.5 years old) is always commenting on the changes in the garden and the weather, she’ll  always notice these things before me, I’ve got my head too lost in the jobs that need doing and my grown up world. Rocky (18 months) chases butterflies and magpies, he stops and pushes his face right up close to new blooms and lost bird feathers, he crunches seed pods in his little fists and brings me rock, after rock, after rock to examine with him.

One day Pebble asked if she could paint, as she often does, so I suggested that we paint outside, and paint what we see in the garden. I set up her table and chair next to the lemon tree, popped the water colour paints and some paper on the table and left her to it. She sat quietly engrossed in her creation for quite some time, chattering to herself about her picture and what she could see.

 Painting Nature With Kids Painting Nature With Kids

This made a nice change from painting the pictures from her head and gave her something real to focus on, details to appreciate. She was so proud of the painting that she created, it clearly meant a lot to her. Her art work has taken pride of place on the wall in my office nook ever since.

Rocky is just starting to join in with painting and prefers the gooey, slippery, splashy poster paints, which I’ll admit we don’t get to use quite so often. He got stuck into them at a gathering with friends over the weekend and it reminded me that I need to get these out more regularly.

Here are some suggestions for painting nature with kids:


  • the whole putting the paint brush in the pot or on the colour is a big ask for little hands, this can be the most interesting part to a toddler at first. Be patient and prepared for mess. Wear old clothes and embrace it when they drop the paint brush and stick their fingers in instead.
  • toddlers may make marks on the page that look like a smudge to us, but to them it represents meaning. Listen to their words and watch their gestures to find out what the painting means to them.
  • play with making patterns, mixing colours and filling up space, this is all new to toddlers.
  • use seed pods, leaves and flowers instead of paint brushes, to create interesting textures.
  • water painting is an old favourite for toddlers, just grab a bucket full of water and a paintbrush and let them go for it.

 Painting Nature With Kids

Older Kids:

  • children sometimes get stuck and frustrated with painting particular objects. They have a clear idea in mind but don’t know where to start. Try breaking it down into steps. Which step will you start with? The grass, or the tree trunk or the lemons? If they’re painting from memory or imagination try looking at a real example, a toy or a picture.
  • if children can’t decide what to paint, suggest that they try out the colours and see what they can do and offer a fresh piece of paper if and when they want one. Often the fear of making a mistake stops children from enjoying painting, or other art forms. Paint alongside your kids, show them that it’s ok to make mistakes.
  • try focusing on small details in nature, look closely at one particular flower, focus on the bees buzzing on new blossums or the bare branches of a tree in winter.
  • take water colours to the park. We have a gorgeous rose garden near our house that would be perfect for this. Choose a sunny day that’s not too windy and use rocks to weigh the corners of the paper down while painting and allowing to dry. Take a folder or bag to carry the art works home in later.

 Painting Nature With Kids

Do your kids love painting? Have they ever tried painting nature?

40 Cool Ways to Paint with Kids

40 Cool Ways to Paint with Kids {via Octavia and Vicky}

“Muuuuuuum, can we paaaaaaaiinnnnnnt?”

I think Pebble asks to paint almost every. single. day. And I say yes {almost} every. single. day.

To be honest, I rely pretty heavily on the good old water colours – so easy to set up and clean up – but we can never have enough painting ideas. Here are forty cool ideas that I found in The Weekly Kids Co-Op last week and around the wonderful web.

40 Cool Ways to Paint with Kids

Cool Ways to Paint with Kids

1. Window painting handwriting practice (Coffee Cups and Crayons)
2. Paint Stamping Bugs and Butterflies (The Craft Train)
3. Bubble Prints (Octavia and Vicky)
4. Ocean scenes using chalk and tempura (Buggy and Buddy)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids5. Painted Clay Butterfly Craft (Home Grown Friends)
6. Lego Painting (Octavia and Vicky)
7. Drop! Splat! Playful preschool art with watercolours (Fun-A-Day!)
8. Marbled Fish Craft (Fantastic Fun and Learning)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids9. Spring Blossom Tree (3 Dinosaurs)
10. Making Ochre Paint from Rocks (The Craft Train)
11. DIY Striped Frames (Octavia and Vicky)
12. Frozen “Paintsicles” (Learn with Play at Home)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids13. Cardboard Comb Painting (Learn with Play at Home)
14. Homemade Edible Finger Paint (The Imagination Tree)
15. Glossy Skittles Paint (Mama. Papa. Bubba)
16. Puffy Paint (One Perfect Day)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids17.  Rock Wall Paintings (Creative Play Central)
18. Truck Painting Track (Paging Fun Mums)
19. Painting Patterns Using Nature (Wildlife Fun 4 Kids)
20. Finger Painting with added extras! (Picklebums)

Cool Ways to Paint with Kids21. Autumn Bloom Tree Water Colour Painting (Be a Fun Mum)
22. Blow Painting (One Perfect Day)
23. DIY Chalk Paint (You Clever Monkey)
24. Ice Painting Fun (Childhood 101)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids
25. Magic Paintings (An Everyday Story)
26. Paper Plate Stencils (A Little Learning for Two)
27. Painting with Shapes (At Home with Ali)
28. Rain Painting (Housing a Forest)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids29. Watercolour resist with candles (Just for Daisy)
30. Homemade Spice Paint (NurtureStore)
31. Homemade Glitter Paint (Mama.Papa.Bubba)
32. Making Glue Paint (Teach Preschool)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids33. Cotton Swab Painting(Lessons Learnt Journal)
34. Eco Paint Recipe (Down to Earth Mother)
35. DIY Bath Paint (Learning 4 Kids)
36. Bubble Wrap Roller Painting (Mummy Musings and Mayhem)
Cool Ways to Paint with Kids
37. Painting with Mud (My Little Bookcase)
38. Toilet Brush Painting (Paint on the Ceiling)
39. Tube Painting (Playing and Learning Begins at Home)
40. Painting With and On Sticks (DanyaBanya)

… and sneaking in a couple of extras that I found at the last minute, how could I resist sharing them with you?…
Working with Paint (Racheous) – check out her Transform Your Play series too
Baby Safe Painting with Yoghurt (Adventures at Home with Mum) – Rocky would LOVE this!

Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.

Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities

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Bubble Prints

Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}Today was one of those relaxed, gorgeous days that you feel like doing not a lot of anything, but get bored doing nothing at all, so find yourself looking for something fun to fill the time. I had bubble printing on my to-do list for a while and today was the perfect day for it. The sun was shining, perhaps the last of our sunny days for a while as Autumn takes hold, and this creative play is best suited to outside, unless you like worrying about mess!

Bubble Prints

You will need:

  • 1 large jug
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dish washing liquid
  • 3 bowls
  • 3 different food colourings
  • 3 straws
  • white paper
  • paper towel (optional)

To make bubble prints:

  1. Fill the jug with the water and dishwashing liquid and stir gently with one of the straws to combine.
  2. Pour a good squirt of food colouring into each bowl then top up with the soap mixture. Put a straw in each bowl.
  3. Invite children to blow bubbles into the soap mixture and watch as bubble grow in the bowl.
  4. Before the bubbles disappear gently press the paper on top of the bubbles and hold until the bubbles have popped (a couple of seconds).
  5. Lift the paper to reveal your bubble print! Keep making more prints to create your own art work, or just for the fun of it.

Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky} Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky} Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky} Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}

Tips for successful bubble printing:

  • Gather all your bits and pieces and set up the activity before eager kids join in.
  • Use a safety pin or needle to poke a hole through each straw. This will help avoid children slurping the soap liquid up the straw and into their mouths.
  • Place paper towel under the bowls to help soak up any spills as they happen.
  • The more food colouring you add, the more intense your colours will be.
  • Wear old clothes! Food colouring stains.

Have you ever tried bubble printing? 

Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.

Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities

Lego Painting

Today I bring you final in the Lego! Cake! Music! series in memory of my brother Ryan. I can’t thank my blogging mates enough for all these super awesome blog posts, and their amazing support over the past few weeks. They are dead set legends.

Today’s legend is Danya from Danya Banya with a post about lego painting. Enjoy :)


I was devastated when I heard the news that Kylie’s brother had passed away.

I am so very close to my own brother, he’s the one that began calling me Danya Banya when I was still knee-high to a grasshopper, and is still one of my closest friends.

I can’t imagine what Kylie and her family are going through right now, and I wanted to do something to help.

I was supervising the kids in the bath when I saw Kylie’s email come through asking if any of her blogging friends would like to submit a guest post for her blog while she is in mourning. She mentioned that her brother had liked Lego, so something to do with Lego would be fitting.

And then I knew what we could do to help. We could paint.

So I towelled down the kids, and brought them downstairs for a rare spot of after bath painting. But we didn’t use brushes, we were going to paint with Lego instead.

Painting with Lego
JJ always jumps at the opportunity to do familiar things with unfamiliar materials, and this was no exception. She picked up one of the Lego pieces, and started stamping straight away.
I encouraged her to try stamping with all the different sides – the bottom, the top, and the side. We noticed that some of the Lego pieces were different shapes, and thus made different patterns.
Stamping with Lego and paint

Before long she asked for one of her Lego people to paint with. Sure!

She tried dipping the Lego man, but then elected to finger paint him first, before attempting to paint with him. He wasn’t as effective at creating an imprint as the other Lego pieces. JJ used a bit of trial and error to see what works best.
Painting with a Lego man
After a while, Bee came over to see what all the fuss was about. She’s started showing an interest in creating art with our textas lately, but I hadn’t given her a chance to play with the paints just yet. It seemed that this was the opportunity!
Baby painting with Lego
Touching, dipping, stamping.”Look you’re painting! You’ve made the colour go onto the paper! You’re painting with the colour green!”
She also liked the look of the Lego man. She held him by his head (which had all the paint on it) and tried to paint with his (clean) feet. Nice try Bee…
Baby painting with Lego
And then, with the wonder that only a brand new toddler can muster, she discovered something amazing. The sensation of squeezing, squelching, oozing finger paint between her fingers.
What fun!
Squeezing, squelching, oozing finger paint between baby fingers

All the while this exploration was happening, I was trying futilely to keep as much paint out of her mouth as possible. We were using non-toxic finger paint, but it still isn’t ideal for her to eat it.

Here’s a photographic timeline of my success (or lack thereof).
Oh no! I *accidentally* ate some paint Mummy!

Oh, and did I mention that she’d only just come out of the bath? Sigh. :)

As this was a process-orientated art experience, the end result wasn’t the goal. But nevertheless, here is our finished work of art hanging on our fence to dry. Perhaps we’ll use it as Christmas wrapping paper?
Lego Art

And to dear Kylie, my heart goes out to you. Words can’t express how sorry I am for your loss.

Danya Banya is a blog about Danya, an Australian Mum doing her best to raise two daughters and learning along the way. It’s a place to share how we play, create, laugh and love.

Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.

Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities