If you’re pressed for time read only the next three lines:
Step one: mix washable paint with some water in a spray bottle (picked up at a dollar store)
Step two: set up easel outside (**Note: ensure the child will not be spraying in the direction of the house. Trust me on this one**)
Step three: hand child the spray bottle and watch the fun unfold.
It really is that easy and it’s actually really fun (I had to show the kids how to do it, of course). Plus it makes some really great art which we are reusing as wrapping paper. It’s an all around great activity!
My husband and father looked at me like I was nuts when I set this up for some neighbourhood kids and my daughter one sunny afternoon. My rationale was that it kept them in one place and entertained for longer than anything else I could think of. I handed each child a bottle and let ’em rip. Once the page was saturated (or rather the art was complete) I would yell “stop,” tear off that page and pull out some fresh paper. They stayed in one place until we ran out of paint.
I tend to lean towards crafts when I don’t have the energy for imaginative play with my daughter (she could play cars or Little People the entire day).
We’ve tried a few other paint activities I found on Pinterest but I often find the amount of set-up versus the amount of time she stays engaged does not add up.
The spray bottle activity is a winner.
The next step: I want to hang up some white t-shirts and put some sort of dye in the bottles and make shirts!
Here are five other fun activities we’ve tried:
1. Paint-filled eggs on canvas from Growing a Jeweled Rose
This one took a while to set up because you had to eat the eggs and clean them before filling them with paint. It took me at least a week to have enough ready.
There is something satisfying about the crunch of the shell as it hits the canvas and my daughter enjoyed the suspense of not knowing what colour was inside (hence, the tissue paper on top of the egg). However, she was done with it in less than five minutes.
2. Exploding sidewalk chalk paint bags, also from Growing a Jeweled Rose (that site is awesome!)
It’s the old baking soda + vinegar trick with the added fun of colour. My daughter had fun adding the food colouring and making her own shades (a chance to talk about how red and blue make purple etc.) and she absolutely loved the fact that the bags exploded. Once they popped she would pick them up and pour all the paint around chanting “make a mess! Make a mess!”
The fun was over a bit too soon in her mind, though. She would have been happy if I had prepared 20 bags. I hadn’t.
3. Fireworks painting activity from Learning 4 Kids
For this one you just cut up some toilet paper rolls, dip them in the paint and go! I saw something similar on TV where they used pipe cleaners to make the brushes and twisted them a little as they pushed them on to the paper. They also added glue in the paint and then sprinkled glitter on at the end. It looked really cool.
G made two of these paintings in pretty short order and then declared she was done. We ended up tossing a lot of leftover paint.
4. Painting with lettuce ends
This one came about when I saw a neighbour walking home with her daughter. I was asking about the daycare she attended because I was looking to get my son on some waiting lists. As we were talking, she held up a craft to show me what they did at daycare that day and it was a picture of flowers made by stamping with the ends of romaine lettuce heads.
The next day I pulled out a bag of three heads of lettuce and chopped the ends off (great excuse to make salad) and started prepping the paint. My daughter twisted the lettuce on the paper instead of stamping but I thought the result was really cute!
I had to go and buy more lettuce the following day (and therefore eat more salad) so she could do more. That’s a successful activity in my books!
5. The old faithful: corks, brushes and pipe cleaners
Somewhere I saw a painting of a man holding a big bunch of balloons and whoever made it had used corks to stamp circles on the page for the balloons. I can tell you when I tried it with my then two-year-old daughter it turned out nothing like what I had seen online (I can’t find that image now) but we continued using corks every time we painted. Sometimes I cut shapes in the cork to stamp on the page but most of the time we use them as is. We’ve also tried using cars, toy animals (to make prints) and anything with a fun texture.