Children love to explore and express their creativity with simple painting activities. And I love the opportunities paint presents for playful learning. It's one of those fantastic child friendly mediums that can be used or made in many different ways... so next time you pull the paint pots out think outside the box and offer something new for the senses!
It's also one of the most budget friendly craft resources if you make it yourself....with the added bonus of being able to use safely with babies and toddlers because you can control exactly what goes into you paint! Get started making your own paint with some of the following recipes...no excuses not to try because they are so easy!
Simple Paint Recipes for Educators and Parents
Creative Ideas Outside the 'Paint' Box
I had to share this clever idea from Empowered Ed member Debbie. She found an old wine rack, turned it on it's side, added seedling containers and now has a fab paint pot holder! What a fantastic upcycling idea that should stop those paint pots getting knocked over.
No paintbrushes? No worries! Why not use flowers instead like Jenny did below.
Sai Family Daycare also made their own nature paint brushes.
Salt painting is a fun (and budget friendly) way to add an extra texture element to the painting fun! See how to make it and how we played with it HERE.
Painting doesn't have to be just on paper - introduce some role play fun when you set up to 'facepaint' with dolls! See how we played HERE.
Bubble wrap makes an interesting recycled canvas for painting - lot's of messy, sensory fun! Once the children have painted on the bubble wrap you can then make prints from them too.
Or wrap some around a cardboard cylinder to form a textured roller...
If you can find some velcro rollers they make a fantastic fine motor and sensory painting experience!
Very easy to set up….I just used a few of the recycled trays I am always collecting, filled them with some water, sprinkled on a little edicol powder dye (you could use food colouring if no dye) and plonked a few different sized rollers into the trays.
We had red and blue rollers so I decided to match with the paint colour although I didn’t stress that they had to stay that way…this activity was all about exploration and challenging the senses!
Why not take a look around and see what unusual items you can use to paint with? When I saw these small plungers while out shopping I knew I had to have them. Now I realise not everyone would look at sink plungers and immediately think ‘yes, I need 5 of them!” but it’s the way my mind works!
We made circle patterns and designs with our plunger paintings !
One of my favourite painting tools to use with toddlers is a shaving brush - they are the perfect size for hands and wrists still developing control. You can even add some shaving cream to the paint for a fluffy painting experience - use with the brushes or just fingers.
Experiment with big and small and challenge fine motor strength using turkey basters or medicine droppers. I like to use water with a little edicol powder dye mixed through to create brightly coloured water paint....do this one outside though! Edicol washes out of clothes and off little bodies so you don't have to worry about the paint stains.
Use what you have around the house to make patterns and prints!
Empowered Ed Facebook Group member Aimee shared this collaborative art idea. They made a textured vertical wall using recycled materials and then the children painted it - what a fun group project!
Another wonderful canvas for painting is glass! Empowered Ed member Shaun shared this picture of the children's creation (obviously you want to make sure you're using washable paint - I like to use my cornflour paint recipe).
If you're worried about your windows why not try a perspex easel like the one Early Childhood Educator Abigail used for her painting. Think of the paper you would save! You can easily snap a photo to keep a copy of their art.
Whenever I use these easels I always find the children enjoy standing on each side and looking through to each other as they create.
I also like getting out the window squeegees and a bucket of water for the children to use to scrape the paint off then they can begin again!
Another clever reusable easel idea comes from Shaun who uses core flute sheets from Bunnings for painting. Shaun says that they are very cheap to buy ($5 each) and can be washed off and re-used many times. Making them a sustainable option. They are easy to store and move around as they are light. Perfect for toddlers!
If you are short on space outside or don't want to lug heavy easels around try this easy option instead. I simply brought a few wooden clipboards then we screwed them to our fence at the right height for the children to access. All you need to do is setup a table to hold some paper and paint! Simple.
Mirrors are an interesting resource for painting and early learning. Teagan from our group used her mirrors for paint - it's adds another perspective to the painting! The paint washes off and can be reused so it's a budget friendly method as well..
Use Nature as a Canvas for Creative Painting & Sensory Exploration
Sarah uses pinecones to paint with and paint on. What items from nature do you think you could use instead? Why not combine this with a nature walk first to collect your painting 'tools'.
Jenny introduced leaves to their painting - I love the interesting patterns that the different leaves make with the paint and also the shadows...a feast for the senses!
Tina has a log in her daycare that frequently gets painted and repainted!
We've had fun using sunflower heads as stampers, collecting and painting bark, using a collection of sticks as a 'Christmas Tree' and so much more over the years.
Get out those cars and paint with them - this one is always fun. Why not mix it up and add some trucks as well. Afterwards you can set up a car wash for added fun!
Mignon used tennis balls dipped in paint - golf balls, ping pong balls and marbles (depending on the age of the children) work well too.
This might not be for everyone, but why not give 'slide painting' a go! You put a tarp on a hill, add some paint and let them slide down. This could be a fun end of year activity idea. Thanks to Ashley for this picture.
Janelle set up painting with straws - she used a very watery cornflour paint mix with edicol dye to colour, and the children blew into their straws to create their artwork.
Jo set up water pistol painting! This one would be a fun option for those vacation care activities!
Recycle those plastic bottles and use them for some painting fun - they are one of my favourite tools to support toddlers and younger children as they begin to master the skill of squeeze and release.
What painting tool, material or activity could you offer children the opportunity to explore and create with next?
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A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.