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?

17 Replies to “Paint Play with Toddlers and Preschoolers”

  1. This looks like so much fun! It’s true though. I used to paint all the time with my first and have awesome pictures of him getting crazy messy, but with more than one it hardly ever happens. The idea of trying to corral three little paint covered kiddos is just so overwhelming!

  2. Gorgeous pics! We paint here almost daily. We used to paint every day with Maddie but Noah is just that bit messier than her so I’m not as forthcoming with the paints for him, haha.

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