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Painting with Small Children

As a brand-new home schooling family, we're branching out in our craft projects at home.  Thursdays have become, much to my kids' delight, Painting Day.  (As our oldest is just in Kindergarten, our "home school" is VERY fun right now!)

I was nervous about a weekly Painting Day, but here is how we have successfully been using paints with a five and a two-year-old.

  • For children who are able, have an assignment.  You could set something out for them to paint a picture of, or talk about a character or scene in a favorite story for them to depict.  Discuss the details with them first, and get them excited about what they're about to do.
  • If pictures quickly become a "paint lake", try limiting the paint colors.
  • Pour washable paints into smaller containers- our favorites are mini muffin tins, or plastic trays that used to hold goodies.  The trays you see above used to hold ice cream-filled mochi.
  • Teach children to stroke the page with their brush, and never scribble.  
  • Very small children can have a lot of fun painting if you first pour dribbles of paint all over their page and let them use brushes and fingers to paint their own picture.  This is a great high chair activity!
  • I stapled a large piece of oil cloth to our kitchen table as a semi-permanent tablecloth, and it is simply amazing for doing art projects on.  Crayons, markers, paints, and even ball point pens wipe right up.
  • Good smocks are a sanity-saver.  We found these inexpensive smocks at Ikea, and they are great for protecting them from neck to knee.  If I could change one thing, the sleeves would be fitted so they don't drag through the paint and projects.  Old dress shirts from Dad's closet, worn backwards, are also a great option (although not waterproof.)
  • We have laminate floors that are, as far as I can tell, indestructible.  However if you DON'T have such impervious floors, a drop cloth under the work area is a great option in case something spills.
  • Finally, and most importantly, just let the kids paint!  

We've had a lot of fun painting together -- yes, I paint pictures too, and no I don't bother to correct people when they compliment my five-year-old on "her" beautiful art work!  And as an added bonus, as our days get shorter and light gets scarcer, I have an unending supply to cheerful artwork to bring light and warmth into our home.


Chelan 083 Myrnie is Mom to two little girls, wife to her husband, and a lifelong book junkie. She can be found crafting and gabbing here and being all crunchy here.

Photo credits: Myself

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