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30+ Easy Ways to Paint with Kids

January 14, 2021

Are you looking for creative, open-ended, and easy ways to paint with kids? You’re in the right place! Painting can be so many things – whether that’s simply putting paint to paper, painting 3D objects, using nature to paint, using water to paint, and so much more! Painting can be messy or low mess, and can be adapted for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. In this article you will find over 30 easy ways to paint with kids!

Painting is a very process-based way of creating. This means children can focus on the act of painting itself – the brush strokes, the mixing of colours, and the way the paint feels in their fingers – without being concerned about the final product. Children learn best when they are are free to explore and fully immerse themselves into the materials in front of them. Learn more about how children learn through art!

On this page, you can find ways to paint with…

Painting with Nature

Painting with Nature’s Loose Parts
Nature is filled with all sorts of loose parts that are great for painting! Try painting stones, pinecones, sticks and leaves, or using them as an alternative brush to paint on paper or cardboard.

Three photos of a child painting rocks and using leaves and a pinecone as a paintbrush

Painting Snow
Use spray bottles, condiment bottles, or water bottles (with a squirt lid) filled with water and food colour to paint in the snow!

Two photos of children painting in the snow using coloured water in squirt bottles

Tree Easel
Place some paper on a tree to use as an easel! This is a great way to get outdoors while painting – plus the texture of the tree may come through on your art!

Three children painting paper and canvas taped to a tree

Painting with Household Materials

Painting with Tin Foil
Tin foil is a great surface to paint on. It has a different texture, look, and sound than paper, making it a fun new surface to explore!

Children's hand fingerpainting on aluminium foil

Bubble Painting
Bubbles are always a good idea! Mix tempera paint, water, and dish soap for a fun bubble activity and use straws or bubble wands to blow the bubbles. Try blowing the bubbles onto paper to see how the bubbles colour the page, or let the bubbles overflow right onto the paper!

Preschool aged children blowing through straws into a bowl of soap, water, and paint

Painting with Plastic Wrap
Wrap plastic wrap around the legs of a small table or a tray to paint. Since the plastic wrap is clear, it provides a different experience than most surfaces.

Child painting on clear plastic wrap

Salad Spinner Painting
Use a salad spinner to paint in a new way – cut a piece of paper to fit inside the salad spinner, add a few globs of paint to the paper, and spin!

A child cuts a round piece of paper, puts it into a salad spinner with paint, and spins it as a new way to paint

Painting with Straws
Add large drops of paint to a piece of paper (or another surface, like tin foil or plastic) and blow through the straws onto the paint. Watch as the paint moves on the page creating your very own masterpiece!

Children blow air through straws to spread paint out on a piece of paper

Paint in a Bag
Using a clear and sealable bag, enclose a sheet of paper and some paint for your child to explore! Tape the edges or tape the bags to a tray for extra security.

Baby plays with paint inside a clear bag

Painting with Ice

Ice Cube Canvas
Fill a container with water and allow it to freeze completely. Take the ice out as your paint canvas!

A child uses a paintbrush to paint on a block of ice

Toy Rescue
Just like “Ice Cube Canvas”, start by freezing a container of water, but this time, add some toys/objects! When frozen, use paintbrushes to “paint” the ice with table salt or vinegar. The salt and vinegar will slowly melt the ice and rescue the toys frozen inside!

Salt and vinegar is used to paint on a block of ice filled with toys

Ice Cube Paint
You can also try painting with ice cubes. Add water and food colouring to an ice cube tray, add popsicle sticks to create a “handle” (or simply use your hands to move the ice around), and freeze. Your child may enjoy the watching the colours move across the page or feeling the cold ice on their fingers.

A work of art made by melting paint-filled ice cubes with popsicle stick handles

Painting with Toys

Painting with Cars
Cars make for great paint tools! Discover all the fun tracks and prints you can make with cars. Explore size and texture with different types of tire tracks.

A child uses a toy car to spread paint onto a page

Paint Smash
Use paper cups and paint for a paint smash! Try this way of painting to practice hand-eye coordination. Don’t have any hammers? Try smashing the cups (and paint) with your hands instead!

A child uses a toy hammer to smash a Dixie cup filled with paint

A fly swatter is also a great way to smash the paint!

A work of art made using a fly swatter as a paintbrush

Paint Stomp
Toy animals are also great for painting! Not only is it fun to paint the animals, but it’s fun to explore the different foot prints (or even nose prints!) they make.

A child paints toys animals with a paint brush and uses the animals to stamp the paint on paper

Painting with Lego
Children can explore using lego to paint – creating prints and images or painting on the lego!

Two works of art made by stamping paint onto a piece of paper with Lego

Marble Painting
Add some dabs of paint to the box along with a few marbles and tilt the box in different directions to move the marbles through the paint. Change this activity up by using sticks to move the marbles around!

A step-by-step photo showing the process of a painting made by rolling marbles through blobs of paint in a cardboard box

Giant Marble Painting
Create a larger version of marble painting using golf balls or plastic balls and bigger box. It might take some team work to move the box around!

A ball rolls through paint inside a box to create a work of art

Painting with Water

Spray Bottle Painting
Strengthen fine motor skills by filling a spray bottle with water and watering the grass, rocks, flowers, sidewalk or wall. Spray bottles also make for a great bath time activity!

A child sprays water into the grass and path using a spray bottle

Paper Towel Art
Try painting with water (food colouring optional) using a paintbrush and paper/paper towel!

Art made by painting water mixed with food colouring on paper and paper towels

You can even rip up the wet paper towel and stick it to a window to create a collage!

Paper towel painted with water and food colouring is ripped up and stuck to a window for a stained glass effect for children

Pipettes and Turkey Basters
Paint with pipettes or a turkey baster using water mixed with food colouring and paper towel, coffee filters or cotton balls.

A toddler paintes on cotton balls, cotton pads, and a coffee filter using a pipette to dispense water mixed with food colouring

Painting with Recycled Materials

Painting Cardboard Boxes
Using 3D materials, like cardboard boxes, helps your child to develop spatial awareness! Children learn to maneuver around the objects and to move them into positions that are best for creating.

A toddler paints on a cardboard box

Try showing your child how all sides of the boxes can be used–this may help them feel more comfortable to experiment with different ways to create!

Painting Bubble Wrap
Bubble wrap provides an interesting texture to add a sensory element to your child’s art. Children might like painting the bubble wrap, using it as a stamp, or popping the bubbles.

A child paints on bubble wrap with a paintbrush and their feet

Painting with Ramps
Ramps are great for exploring cause and effect, so why not add paint? Build ramps out of cardboard and roll cars, balls, and marbles to down them to spread paint across the surface. Which objects go fast? Which go slow? Experiment with different object to see how they move and paint!

A ball rolls down cardboard ramps with paint

Handmade Easel
Cardboard also makes a great easel for painting! Tape a piece of cardboard (bent in half) to a table, tray, or the floor. Tape a piece of paper to your easel or simply paint right on it!

A piece of cardboard is used as a paint easel

Painting with Your Hands and Feet

Finger Painting
Finger painting is a great way for children to create while exploring through their sense of touch. Sensory play, such as finger painting, helps build connections in a child’s brains that help develop memory, language, problem solving skills and more! Find more Easy Sensory Play Ideas for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers.

A child finger paints on a shiny surface

Painting with Feet
Why stick to finger painting when you can paint with your toes too? Much like finger paint, painting with feet allows children to explore paint through their sense of touch, while getting messy!

A young toddler creates art by stepping in paint and walking on a piece of paper

Paint with Play Dough
Try painting play dough so children can experiment, create, and immerse themselves in the mess!

A child paints onto homemade play dough

Messy play can be overwhelming – especially at home. If you’d like to try messy play, try limiting the mess by starting with a small amount of paint and adding more as you go!

For our favourite play dough recipe, check out The Imagination Tree’s Best Ever No-Cook Play Dough.

Painting with Shaving Cream

Window Art
Paint your windows with shaving cream! Paint on the shaving cream with your hands or brushes, and make scribbles, figures, and images by “drawing” into the shaving cream! This is a great material to explore the art process because children can wipe the drawing out and start over again!

Shaving cream on a window with scribbles and letters painted on

Paint and Build
Foam blocks, styrofoam, packing peanuts, or a cut up pool noodle are all great ways to paint and build! Use shaving cream to paint the blocks and stick them together to build all sorts of structures.

A child paints on shaving cream to foam blocks and builds structures

“Puffy Paint”
“Puffy Paint” is equal parts shaving cream and white glue mixed with some food colouring and dries puffy! You can mix the ingredients together, as well as enjoy the process of painting!

A child creates art using puffy paint, which has been made using glue, shaving cream, and food colouring

Don’t have paint at home? Check out this Homemade Kids Paint recipe from Happy Money Saver!

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