How to paint with kids WITHOUT the giant mess: here’s the tips you need.
Painting was not my thing.
The mess. The mud colors. The 27 seconds my kids would actually paint for.
I just hated it.
BUT I knew they loved it and I knew they needed it for their creative brains and I knew I would be able to learn some tricks to make painting more doable (and less panic inducing).
I figured out how to make painting with kids a fun experience for all of us…
And get an entire “hot coffee” length of play time from my kids (if you’re a parent or caregiver, I know you understand measuring time in cups of coffee).
Here’s hoping these 5 simple tips will help you have a more successfully go when you paint with kids – the way that I’ve learned to do (learn from me! I speak from experience!).
What are the best supplies for painting with kids?
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TIP 1: BE YOUR OWN FLIGHT ATTENDANT
Friends, you need to know and have located your exits BEFORE painting ever begins.
How will you clean up? How will you clean the kids up? How will you keep your white couch safe (that may be a tad specific to my life, but go with me here)?
I always recommend painting near a water source.
And I double recommend that painting activities end with time for a bath because that’s 10x easier than wiping kids down.
When we paint outside, we paint near the hose.
When we paint inside, we paint on the hard floor but I have an escape plan set up to get everyone (and everything) up to the bath or shower.
TIP 2: ALWAYS HAVE A WET WASH CLOTH PER KID
One of the best lessons I learned with my kids for mitigating the mess is having a wash cloth at their side.
When they have a drip – they can wipe it up instead of stepping in it or dragging their sleeve in it.
When they get their hands covered – they can choose to clean up quick so they don’t smudge the paint all over.
By giving my kids the wet wash cloths, I accomplished two things: I had a fast way to help them clean as they painted and they had a way to be independent while painting to keep their body clean.
TIP 3: USE A MUFFIN TIN OR ICE CUBE TRAY
It may seem a bit odd, but muffin tins (or ice cube trays) are my favorite way to hold kid paint.
It’s a great, easy divided space that helps support keeping the colors organized (wink). Ice cube trays work the same way, just on a smaller scale (since the spaces are smaller to work with).
Next time you get ready to paint: grab your muffin tin NOT a plate.
TIP 4: USE COLORS THAT COMPLIMENT
I learned this trick from Art Bar and it has been LIFE CHANGING.
Unless you truly need to for maximum creativity, consider giving your child only colors that “go together,” like red + orange + yellow or blue + purple + pink. These colors don’t all “mud” to form.
Want some more variety? Add white paint to the mix and alter the hue. I do this part with my kids and also add some white into the muffin tin. It makes for a GREAT conversation.
TIP 5: GIVE A PURPOSE TO PAINTING
I love process art for kids BUT at this early age, a blank white canvas can be daunting.
With my oldest, it was too much and it caused him to HATE painting. The pressure was too high.
Instead, I started having him paint “things:”
And he FINALLY saw the value and fun of painting. He’s now my most art-centered kid and I know it’s from providing him variety as a toddler and not relying on the blank paper to lead the way.
Painting with kids IS DOABLE.
It doesn’t have to mean messy. It doesn’t have to mean mud. It’s doesn’t have to be panic inducing.
Plan ahead, think it through, and set your children (and you!) up for painting success.