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.