9 Tips For Finger Painting With Your Toddler

finger painting for toddlers Of all the questions I get one of the most common is “How do you deal with the mess?” This is often followed by “I just can’t do messy stuff with my kids.”  If messy things really honestly upsets you I am here to tell you that it’s not worth the upset. If you will spend the whole time cleaning up after them, telling them to not do this or that it’s not worth it as an activity at your house. That’s OK. We all have our limits and not allowing messy art in your house doesn’t make you a bad parent.

If you are just nervous but eager to try it than these tips are for you. Over the years these have been my go to ways to make messy art like finger painting a wonderfully creative experience for my kids without me budding in every two minutes with a wipe interrupting their play. When we break up their play with wipes and cleaning up under them what we are saying is ” What you are doing is wrong, let me fix that.” or ” This is annoying me, let me make it right.” Sure this won’t register with every kid but most pick up on it and by nature most children want to please us. If we are going to let them be creative we need to find ways to make it work for all of us so we aren’t stepping in constantly.

These tips will help! These are old pictures of my now four and a half year old daughter, she was just under two when we did this activity.

finger painting with toddlers

1. If possible strap them in. If you use a booster seat for meals use that same chair for the activity. When their hands are covered in paint you don’t want them free to roam. If this isn’t an option position yourself so that you are between them and the area you do not want them to reach until their hands are clean. For us that’s the family room ( specifically the new couch)  only a few feet away from the kitchen where we were creating.

2. Tape their paper to a cutting board, or right to the table if the table is easily washable. This prevents the picture covered in paint from hitting the floor and other things on the way down. toddler finger painting tips to avoid mess

3. Dress your child in old clothes/ Pajamas. Little toddlers and smocks don’t really make a great pair. Avoid the dramatics and just let them wear something that you don’t care if it’s stained.

4. Use an old table cloth to protect your table. If you need to protect your floors try a shower curtain under your child’s chair.  happy tips for toddler finger painting

5. Give them control and let them have small dishes of paint to explore with. Toddlers are on the verge of a lot of new independence and giving them some control during activities is a great way to support this development. You don’t need to direct this activity at all!

6. Have extra paper ( and anything else you are using) on hand so you don’t have to leave them unattended for a second. tips for finger painting

7. Have wipes or a wet wash cloth, and a towel ready. Also don’t unbuckle the booster until after they are all the way clean.

8. If they are super messy my favorite trick is to have a big old bath towel ready and wrap them up in it, and go directly to the bath. toddler finger painting

9. After the painting is dry display it with pride! This seems obvious but it’s really important. Children need to their their art to complete the process. They are artists and should be proud of their work!

 

 

Need a great finger paint recipe? Try this one that your child can help make with you in the kitchen! Click on the image to find out how to make it.

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Easy Painting Activities For Toddlers

art ideas for toddlers I was digging through my own archives the other night as I was lesson planning for my preschool class and found a bunch of posts I’d forgotten about. I found exactly what I needed for my lesson plans and decided to share some of what I found with you as well. These easy painting activities for toddlers are all great for children who are just starting to explore with art. They are open ended, easy to do with one or 10 kids, and let children explore. For more art ideas for toddlers ( and big kids) make sure you are following us on Pinterest and Facebook! 

Do you have a favorite art activity to do with toddlers? Link it up or tell me about it in comments. My children aren’t toddlers anymore but I am always looking for new ideas for my classroom.

art activities for toddlers

Cork Printing
Fly Swatter Painting
Baby Block Painting
Painting with Bugs

toddler painting activities for daycare
Sponge Painting
Pumpkin Printing
Letter Cookie Cutter Printing
Bath Poof Painting

easy painting ideas for toddlers
Splat Painting
Toy Track Painting
Cookie Cutter Prints
Garden Vegetable Printing

toddler printing and painting ideas for preschool
Pot Scrubber Painting
Rubber Duckie Printing
Feather Painting
Painting With Water

painting ideas for young toddlers
Animal Track Paintings
Glass Sponge Painting 
Potato Masher Painting
Painting With Sound

Painting With Dolls

fun art for kids It was raining cats and dogs and we’d already read a stack of books and watched more PBS kids than I care to admit when I decided to steal this idea from my own preschool teachers Fran and Gumti. I loved it when they would roll out the paper and we could choose one of the plastic baby dolls to “walk” along it leaving prints. This painting with dolls activity is timeless because many decades later my daughter loved it. This is also a great adaptation for painting with kids feet if a child doesn’t want to use their own feet. Many kids hate the feeling of getting paint on their feet so having an option of doing it with a doll instead is a way to include everyone.

Gather your materials. You will need some dolls with plastic feet, a long roll of paper ( if you have extra wrapping paper you can use the inside of it), liquid tempra, some painter’s tape, a towel that can get paint on it, a paper plate or two, and a shallow bowl with soapy water. painting with dolls

Tape your paper down. Strip the dolls down and get the water and towel ready at the end of the paper.painting with dolls clean up

Dip the dolly’s feet in the paint.painting with doll feet in preschool

Walk the dolly across the paper.painting with dolls for preschool

Wash and dry and grab a new dolly. wiping dolly feet

She had to hold this dolly differently dolly paintingand it required much more concentration to keep her upright.baby doll painting for toddlers

She loved cleaning their feet and pretending to be a mama.dolly feet

After two dolls she asked for a brush and painted. That is what I love about doing planned activities, they almost always end in a new kid directed one as an add on. If I suggested painting to her she wouldn’t have done it but to just let her add on to this she did. Do what works for your kids but this always have for mine.painting with dolls extention activity

Books About Dolls

All book lists contain affiliate links.

corduroy

Corduroy by Don Freeman was a childhood favorite of mine and my son loves it too. The story is about a lonely bear at a department store who despite being a little disheveled finds a forever home with a kind little girl who needs him as much as he needs her. There are so many levels to this book, as a child I remember being awed by the thought of toys coming alive in stores when the doors are locked and the shoppers leave. As an adult I see this as a touching adoption story . My son loves the escalators Corduroy travels on in the store ! This is another book that has lasting power and can be read for years in your home.

the paper princess

Homemade Paintbrushes

homemade paintbrushesI have made homemade paintbrushes with kids in summer day camps but never with my own kids. We’ve used lots of things that aren’t paintbrushes to paint but we haven’t made them ourselves. Now that my son is a little older I thought it was time to try. My daughter who is four needed a lot of help making the brushes but she loved painting with them, my son on the other hand needed very little help creating the brush but after he confirmed he could paint with it he was done. This is fine, different children will connect to activities differently. They were both being creative throughout and that was the goal.

Gather your materials. You will need some popsicle sticks, elastics ( we used small hair ones and regular rubber bands), craft supplies like feathers, sponges, fake flowers, plastic bags, foam sheets, ribbon, pipe cleaners… I just grabbed all the scraps we had in the playroom. You will also need a pair of scissors for each child as well as paint, and paper to test them out.make your own paintbrush art idea for kids

Start by setting everything up. I rolled out a long line of paper and I am glad I did because my daughter went to town testing every brush out and mixing paint colors. make your own paintbrushes kids craft

Invite the children to check out all the materials and show them how to attach them to the popscicle sticks. My son could do this solo but my daughter needed a lot of help.

Check out their creations! My son was so into making his, he even wanted to add netting to the handle for a grip. I loved seeing him get really into it. make your own paintbrushes with craft supplies

My daughter wanted to use everything pink which meant a sponge and pipe cleaner. make your own homemade paintbrushes

Time to paint! They were so excited to see they really worked.make your own paintbrushes for children  I loved all the squares! painting activities make your own paintbrush

After her brother was done and playing soccer she was adding more paintpainting activity for kids with created paint brushes to the plate and going back to create another brush. create your own paintbrushes

She kept painting and painting! painting with homemade paintbrushes

 

 

Painting Sea Glass

beach art

We live by the ocean and while we don’t get sandy beaches or palm trees we do get sea glass. Looking for sea glass on the rocky shore is one of my favorite calm activities and sometimes my kids join in , no matter how small the piece they are little treasures. Searching for it has taught my kids to pay attention to detail, be determined , as well as patience. Of course all those things will take many more years to develop fully but this is a fun way to work on it while they are young. If you don’t have a spot to search for sea glass you can buy it from craft stores and online.  Painting sea glass is a great way to think out of the box for different canvases, recycle , and even work on those oh so important…fine motor skills.

Gather your materials. You will need some sea glass, paint that works on glass, a few paper plates, and paint brushes. One of my best toddler art tips is for parents to use big brushes that can cover big spaces for toddlers but in this case do the exact opposite. Use the smallest brushes you have because one of the great benefits to painting on small areas is developing fine motor skills while you get creative. sea glass painting fine motor painting

Start by putting a little bit of each color you are using on a paper plate. You can absolutely use a reusable plate but the paints are not washable and I find it much easier and ultimately less wasteful ( of water) to use a paper plate I can roll up and ditch at the end of the activity. sea glass painting art ideas for kids

Take time feel the glass and to talk about how sea glass is made. Why it is so smooth unlike freshly broken glass, why it’s frosted, and if you have any memories to share about finding it. exploring sea glass with preschoolers

Time to paint. There is no wrong way to do this. Paint one side, paint both sides… just have fun getting creative with a new sort of canvas. painting sea glass outside summer activity

She loved it and needed zero direction. painting beach sea glassInstead we chatted about colors, and what we thought the glass used to be , and if there is more than one Santa to deliver all the gifts. My daughter is random like that and I love conversations over art, it’s easily my favorite way to chat especially with such an interesting partner in crime. painting sea glass summer art for kids

Once they are done pop the plate into the sun to dry. Our paint dried while we made words with stamps and playdough. painting sea glass fine motor art idea

reading lists for kids

Check out our collection of books we love about the beach. See the full list here.