Painting with preschoolers or toddlers is less about art and more about hands-on fun and sensory experience. It’s less about focus and concentration and more about creativity, cause and effect. When my daughter hears me say “art project,” she hears “boring” so I have to find ways to keep art projects simply, easy, and engaging. Let’s face it, when my kids ask, “Mom, play with me,” it’s great to have a few fun project ideas up my sleeve to save me from having to sit on the floor with a Barbie doll playing pretend. If you’re anything like me, you’d rather do anything than sit with dolls and play pretend. Don’t worry. This doesn’t make you a bad mom.
Art project to the rescue!
Below are six super simply painting techniques that I’ve found that work great for my three under three, preschools and toddlers, to keep them engaged.
1. Homemade Finger Paint
I made my girls their own finger paint using a finger paint mix given to my daughter by friend, but you can use any homemade finger paint recipe online. Mix together 3 Tbs. sugar, 1/2 c. cornstarch, 2 c. cold water, containers with lids, and food coloring. Stir over medium heat until it thickens, divide into containers and add food coloring.
2. Painting with Squirt Gun
Get out your water guns and water paint for a fun day of painting. Use a coloring easel, clothes line, or fence to hang up a large piece of butcher paper, cardboard, or poster paper and fill up your water gun with water-based paint. Or follow the directions found at Fireflies and Mud Pies.
3. Painting with Cotton Balls and Clothes Pins
Get out a paper plate or muffin tin, clothes pins, cotton balls, and paint. Attach one clothes pin to each cotton ball and use one cotton ball per color. Let your kids get to work dipping and dotting using plain white paper or try using coloring pages to paint a picture or practice painting between the lines.
4. Painting with Colored Tea Bags and Water
Cool Mom Picks highlights many creative painting ideas, but her colored tea bag painting idea is the best idea for painting with preschoolers or toddlers because it is so simple and easy. Get out your colorful, fruit-flavored tea bags and fill up a water bottle with warm water. There is nothing my preschooler enjoys more than squirting water at everything and everyone. I might as well have her put her passion and skills to a better use.
5. Painting with Tissue Paper and Water
The tea bag art painting gave me another idea of spraying water on a tissue paper until the colors bleed through. My daughter and I laid out some tissue paper shapes on a thick piece of paper and then I let her get to work using her spray bottle to get the tissue paper wet. This project was fun and kept her fully engaged. Click the link to see the video of her work (Water bottle tissue paper panting).
6. Paining over Wax Paper Stencils
No matter what method you use to paint, whether you use finger paint, squirt guns, cotton balls, tea bags, or tissue paper and spray guns, a great way to help turn globs of paint into an instant work of art is to first lay down wax paper stencils or cut out shapes before letting the kids go wild. Once they are finished making their mess, just take off the stencil shapes to reveal what they made!
I hope you have fun with these easy painting ideas. Please feel free to comment below, follow our Facebook Page or join our online community to link to share your own creative ideas and best mom advice for navigating the highs and lows of parenting.