The idea for this post was not an open ended paint project instead I was going to do dribble art with my kids. It’s a simple and still pretty open project when you squeeze watered down paint from sponges onto good thick paper making cool designs. We have been working on fine motor skills and squeezing the sponges are a good exercise. However things didn’t go as planned which is fine! They took hold of the activity and I sat back to document. I did carry them both the the bathroom but other than that I was hands off after step 2. I loved watching them simply explore and the picture above is a perfect example of why just letting them take the wheel more often than not is so important. Look at how different their projects are despite having only a few identical materials.
- Gather your materials. If you want to make dribble paintings use paint, muffin tin, sponges cut into squeezable sizes and paper. If you just want some fun open creative painting – put out anything. Brushes or no brushes, all different colors of paint and make sure to have extra paper on hand.
- Start by trying to squeeze the paint out of the sponge and make designs with the dribbles.
- Sit back and just watch. I think I may have said “Not on the window.” a few times and “Not in her hair!” at least once. I wasn’t so worried about arm painting.They had a blast and both paintings are proudly on display in my son’s room. There is no wrong way to paint and I wasn’t about to stop their creativity because it wasn’t in my plan.
I know letting your kids go wild won’t be something all of you will be into but do let your planned ideas veer off course and run with their ideas when they have them, it’s not a fail it’s just a new path!
I love how this turned out, but don’t be fooled this isn’t really a toddler craft. Even though my son had fun , I did most the work for this one. Older children could do this with little to no instruction but toddlers will need one on one help for the painting to look like lights, they can also just have fun with the sponges , or both!
- Gather your materials. You will need a kitchen sponge, washable markers, scissors, some plain white paper, some bright thin paint, tape and black construction paper.
- Start by drawing a light bulb shape on the sponge. Cut out, then wash the marker off.
- We used the paint rollers for our paint, but you could use any paint or even an ink pad. Essentially you are stamping the sponge.
- Stamp! If like me you have been house bound due to weather and are a little crazy and want to try this with a toddler here are my tips… Ask your child where they want the sponge, then place it there, then have them slap the sponge and FREEZE. My son loved this , he loved freezing and it helped get nice prints for the effect. We managed to have fun with these tricks, he also directed which color to use. After he rolled the roller on his head I took over those duties too.
- Do another color…and repeat. I blotted my sponge between uses but I didn’t bother washing it.
- Let the bulbs dry. Here is where I gave my son the sponge and roller and let him be free! While I finished up .
- Add squiggly circles at the neck of each bulb.
- Connect the bulbs with a marker “wire”
- Trim and tape to a black piece of paper. I am using tape because plain white paper is thin and glue could ruin the prints.
** Also as a mom who has been saying “Please don’t touch the lights, that’s your warning!” for days now, I was so happy tonight when my son went to touch the lights on the tree I said ” You can go get the lights we made and touch those!” and it worked , we’ll see if it does tomorrow! **
- Gather your materials. You will need some paint ( at least 2 colors for a cool effect), a plate, paper and most importantly a fun sponge like this glass scrubber!
- Pour a few different paint colors onto a plate.
- Dip your sponge in and have fun. My son loved this activity, possible too much!
- Do make sure the paint you are using is non toxic, and watch carefully that they don’t bite the sponge and choke.Do not laugh at your child’s antics, it will only encourage them, as will picture taking, trust me I know!
- Keep offering new paper if they are interested, my son made 3 beautiful paintings ! Also older children can wait until the paint is dry than make pictures like flowers, fish, bugs or aliens out of the prints!
” Make Up Mess” by Robert Munsch . After seeing my son covered in paint this book immediately came to mind. It’s a fun and silly story all about Julie’s desire for make up , she uses all her money and buys $100 worth! Now I do not like to see little girls encouraged to wear make up or made to feel they need it to be beautiful, but don’t worry that is not what this book is about, quite the opposite. It’s a fun book with a good heart!
- Gather your materials. I am using old Christmas wrapping paper ( I swear this one roll has been around since the 90′s) , I find that using real wrapping paper makes it easier to actually wrap the gift, but any paper will work. Also I am using sponges for a more uniform look, but finger painting or another style is fine too! Of course you’ll need paint too, like usual I am mixing my own colors!
- Use a large piece of paper, larger than you think you will need and tape it face down to the table, or my favorite place a porch/ patio , the hose makes clean up easy!
- If you are sponge painting cut the sponge into small shapes.
- Pour some paint colors onto a dish and mix, this is one of my son’s favorite parts of art time!
- Start painting!
- Add more colors and keep going!Move your child around the paper for a more even pattern.
- Remember how I said use a large piece of paper? This is why, beware of toddlers who think ripping is fun! Luckily I saved enough of the paper for the gift!
- Let dry at least 24 hours, and wrap it in a place that is easy to clean as well, sometimes thick paint will flake off after wrapping. I suggest giving your box a good shake after wrapping.
” Babar’s Birthday Surprise”by Laurent de Brunhof is a story about friends trying to keep a special present a surprise from Babar, and all the trouble it takes to do so. I like Babar books, especially the vocabulary found in the older Babar books, words like stupefied , splendid and catastrophe ! This is a longer book, I would probably not try this with younger preschoolers and toddlers but this is a great book for 4-5 year olds !
” Moira’s Birthday” by Robert Munsch is a silly book, most of his books are, but silly is great! Moira is excited about having her birthday and doesn’t know how to say no to all the kids at school when they beg to come to her party. She ends up with the whole school at her house and her parents don’t know what to do! Luckily Moira does. This book at first look may seem like Moira is a spoiled brat who gets her way but really she is problem solving and when she gives away a present to each child who helps clean up, you can see she just wanted a good party, and isn’t a gift grabbing brat at all! Kids LOVE this book, I have never read it to a class that didn’t laugh hysterically.
“On the Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman is a beautiful book , maybe I am analyzing it too much but it’s really indulgent. Yes I think it’s message is right, everyone is special but what is wrong with just saying your mommy, daddy and family were excited that you were born, do we really need to tell kids that polar bears danced upon hearing the news? The pictures really are amazing I am just not a fan of the text.
Sponge painting is a wonderful way for young children to explore paint, they don’t need to have superior fine motor skills to succeed at making a great finished piece of art, here’s the how to:
- Gather your materials. For this art activity you will need a regular kitchen sponge, some paint, a paper plate or the like to put your paint on, paper and scissors.
- Cut the sponge into some good hand size shapes for your child. We’ve been learning about shapes so I made some , but you can cut out fish shapes, letters..the sky and your cutting ability is the limit!
- Spread some paint on a plate or tray and dip your sponge in.
- I like to mix colors as we paint, it’s fun and keep the kids interested, as well as asking them what shape or picture they are making with the sponge.
” Brown Bear, Brown Bear” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle is a favorite, kids love to read it over and over yelling out the next line before you get the page turned! It’s a great book to read when you are learning about colors.
” What if Zebras lost their stripes” by John Reitano is a poignant look at how zebras would treat each other if some were black and some were white. Great book for teaching multicultural themes or any day!
” Mouse Paint” by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a fun look at colors and what happens when they are mixed!