Quick. Easy. And basically free. Outdoor toy paint is the stuff summer activity dreams are made of. This unexpected summer activity will make you a hero with your kids.
Let the kids paint the outdoor toys
My kids LOVE this old Step2 Treehouse Lookout and it’s just been one of those backyard staples since 2014. They may be 6, 5, and 3 but this house is still the center of their play world.
So I decided to knock their socks off and offer an activity idea using their beloved lookout:
Do you want to paint it?
Don’t worry, I’m not a saint or some overly ambitious parent.
This all washes off (but I look like a real hero for allowing this).
RELATED: Looking for more outdoor activities for kids? I have TONS
The outdoor toy paint blew my kids’ minds
This is the kind of activity or adventure that I LOVE doing with my kids.
It looks so bold, so unexpected. It looks like I’m the “cool Mom.” Cue the Amy Poelher gif.
I look wild and free and amazing…
But really, it’s just washable paint on plastic which means there is exactly ZERO concern here for my toy.
I let the kids paint painting toys – that’s nothing new for us – but doing it on such a large scale. That was the WOW moment for my kids (and also they’re “I can’t believe mom said yes!” moment too).
RELATED: This slide/play house are on my best outdoor toys list. It’s a gem of a toy (and this list is the absolute best).
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- Washable paint (this stuff is GREAT)
- Paint brushes
- Muffin tin (a cheap muffin tin makes for a PERFECT outdoor palette)
Not many supplies huh???!!
That’s the thing about kids activities. We get it in our heads that they need to be complicated and fancy and over blown.
But really? Just a muffin tin of paint and a six year old toy to paint is perfection. Kids don’t need fancy to have fun.
And boom – that was our entire morning.
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What are kids learning?
Learning is play and play is learning and this is some amazing play unfolding.
While we don’t need to justify kids activities with learning (play is learning and that’s enough to “justify” it), it’s sometimes fun to think about all that’s happening during this play.
In this activity, my kids are working on their
- cooperative work skills
- motor skills
Remember, there’s so much more to learning that the “ABCs” and the “123s”. Real learning in early childhood is much more complex than that rote and basic stuff.
Tip – Use a muffin tin for paint
I love a muffin tin for paint and you’ll often catch me using them in my painting activities.
Muffin tins make a natural divider – it’s easy for kids to keep paints from mixing.
Plus: they’re easy to clean (I rinse it and toss it in my dishwasher).
Side note: You may want to skip eating muffins at my house.
How to clean up outdoor toy paint?
It was so easy – and actually a second activity in and of itself!
A few days later, we grabbed the hose and sprayed this down. Then we took scrubby kitchen brushes and gave it a good rub before hosing it down again.
The funny part: by the time paint clean up step was done, the little tree house ended up CLEANER than it started.
Now that’s an activity win, if I’ve ever heard one.
RELATED: This feels like a good segue to my post on how to get kids to actual help with cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kids can paint their toys with washable paint and it will wash off. If you are looking for a more permanent way to paint outdoor plastic toys, try a specially formulated spray paint for plastics. I’ve had really good success with that.
It’s ironic that washable paint doesn’t always feel super washable. If washable paint gets on your child’s clothing, try this: rinse it with warm water and apply hand soap. Rub the fabric against itself to activate the soap. Add a little more and soap, then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat until the stain comes out before you ever toss it in the wash.
Instead of focusing on age, think about what your child is interested in. Do they like painting? Would they enjoy painting a toy? This activity has a wide age range (I’ve seen toddlers and middle schoolers enjoy this).