Instead of offering your tot the same paintbrush, hand her a pipe cleaner for a neat twist. Along with using it to create basic line paintings, your child can experiment with bending and forming unique shapes to press into paint and then stamp on her paper. While being creative, she’s also honing her fine-motor skills. And this easy art activity is totally appropriate for kids of all ages — and adults too.
All you need are a few pipe cleaners, some paint, paper, paper plates, and lots of patience and creativity.
Select a few colors of paint to use with your child and squirt on paper plates. I chose to use the primary colors for this project so we could do a bit of color theory exploration while creating. Now offer your child a pipe cleaner and invite her to bend and shape it, making sure to leave a short length of straight pipe cleaner for grasping while stamping.
Now invite your child to press the formed pipe cleaner in the paint and press on white paper, creating neat organic shapes. Your child can even use the pipe cleaner to create funky lines. Older kids can create patters or designs, while the younger set can simply stamp away.
I couldn’t resist getting in on the pipe cleaner action and had to experiment making my own unique shapes to stamp into the pant and on my own paper, which enticed my daughter to give my twisted pipe cleaners a try too.
Along with creating fun shapes with the pipe cleaners, we noticed how the paint colors changed when mixed together, making this a great project for introducing and exploring color theory. We found red, yellow, ogarange (or orange), purple, blue, geen (or green), and brown in my daughter’s artwork.
And older kids can really put their fine motor skills to the test by bending and forming really fun shapes to press in paint and then stamp. Here’s my finished creation…
We haven’t really gotten into the whole Easter thing. Our little one isn’t begging for candy-filled baskets or mentioned the Easter bunny yet, so we’re kind of going with it. But I did have a bit of inspiration for an egg-ish art activity using my daughter’s new favorite thing — lemons. After making those tuna cakes, she’s been begging for slices of lemon to nibble on.
This is a simple project that introduces kids to pastels and ovals while creating lemon egg shapes, perfect for decorating during the Easter season. Instead of cutting the lemon in half through the middle, cut lengthwise and then trim to create an oval shape.
Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and then in half again, and select a few bright colors of tempera paint with your child for the activity. Squeeze a few big dabs of each color on the paper towel along with a big blob of white paint. Older kids can use a paintbrush to coat the lemon sides with paint while younger tots can simple press the lemon into the paint. While your child is painting, you can chat about all the different things that are oval, like eggs, lemons, footballs…
Now your child can press the lemon egg on her paper and see what it looks like. For the next coat, encourage your child to paint or press the lemon with white paint to see how it changes its color.
Keep painting and printing until you’ve got a paper full of pastel colored egg shapes. Once dry, find the perfect spot to display the finished creation.
And we couldn’t resist a few slices of fresh (unpainted) lemon slices once we were all done with our artwork.
It was a bit rainy here the other day, making it the perfect opportunity for a messy art activity. Because the rain was washing down around us, I decided a wet and wonderful painting was a good idea. We’ve already poured paint with Helen Frankenthaler, so I was on the hunt for a fresh artist to share with the tot. Then I remember Sam Francis and his dripped, splotched, and flicked paintings that he created on canvases. After getting out our handy art book, I located his painting, Around the Blues, 1957/62, and we had a great time checking out all the shades of blue and other colors that were mixed in. And my tot had several interesting ideas on what the painting was depicting — a ring of flowers, a couple of elephants, or, wait, maybe that’s just a bunch of blobs.
A celebrated American painter from California, Francis explored painting after being injured during World War II, studying art at Berkeley. Influenced by abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Francis’ works are bright, vibrant, full of moving line and washed colors, similar in style with the Color Field movement.
After selecting colors of tempera paint we found in Francis’ painting, I got out an old baking tray and a sheet of white drawing paper. This is a really fun art activity for little ones and older kids, but things can get messy. Thus, the baking tray. Run the white paper under running water and then place in the baking pan. Once the paper is wet, it becomes the base for this art activity. Adding paint to a wet work surface is an art technique call a “wash,” which creates a smooth or washed out look.
Now squeeze a dab of each color of paint on a folded sheet of paper towel, offer your child a few paintbrushes, and invite her to dab the paper with the paint, watching as it moves and blends with the water. Older kids can experiment with creating abstract forms while younger tots can explore color theory — and simply making a colorful mess.
Offer your child a spray bottle filled with fresh water to spritz the paper when it starts to dry out. Squeezing that spray bottle also does wonders for budding fine motor skills.
Encourage your child to tilt and move the tray, watching as the paint swirls and washes with the other colors on the paper.
Now your child can continue painting, spraying, and tilting the paper until she’s happy with her finished creations. And if you’re feeling really creative, encourage your little one to drip or gently splatter the paint to add extra texture and detail to the artwork. Maybe take things outdoors for this step if the weather is cooperating… We skipped the splattering due to the rain.
Once the finished Sam Francis’ influenced creation is finished, find the perfect spot for displaying the artwork. We find the fridge to be the perfect spot for our constantly evolving art show.
There’s nothing like the moment when your little one picks her favorite color. It’s awesome and so cute and then it becomes obsessive and overwhelming. At first it’s totally adorable when your tot asks for clothes in her favorite color, hair clips in her favorite color… But then when it becomes, “that has to be ____ (insert favorite color)!” or “I want a ____ (insert favorite color) cupcake NOW!” Then you know the favorite color obsession has hit a new level.
So after a bit of drama the other day when I refused to let her only eat the red goldfish from the rainbow multi-color box, I decided it was a good opportunity to introduce how red can be lots of different colors. Yes, I want to continue to encourage her to love the color red, but also expand her horizons to seeing more than just that bright hue.
Tints and shades are variations on a color, or hue. By adding white to a color you create a tint. When black is mixed with a color, a shade is created. I used to tell kids in the classroom, trying to remember which is which, to think of pulling a shade in their bedroom to make it darker — just like when thinking about mixing paint to create a darker shade. It’s never too early to introduce color theory to tots, so gathered a few materials for a tints and shades of red painting.
Select your little one’s favorite color of paint as well as white and black. I also tore a few bits of red tissue paper of different shades for a bit more excitement. If you’ve got a wee tot like me, offer them a sheet of paper and then drop a few drips of the red, white, along with hardly any black on the paper. Older kids can squeeze a bit of each color of paint in three small containers to do the activity.
Now offer your child a paint brush and encourage her to paint the entire paper, watching what happens when her beloved favorite color mixes with the white and black.
Invite your tot to paint and press the tissue paper on her paper to see how the color changes. Keep painting until all the white paper is covered. Add a few drips here and there as needed.
Let the paper dry and then find a special spot to display the tints and shades creation!
This is such a simple project with fun – and educational – results. Along with honing fine-motor skills, it also encourages color recognition. Toddlers love getting messy – and finger paint doesn’t disappoint. Combining stickers and finger paint also creates a multi-step activity, which also helps tots learn how to wait and follow directions. This doesn’t mean that things are going to go smoothly – plan for chaos by having wet-wipes or a few damp paper towels handy and donning your tot in a smock or okay-for-mess clothing.
Finger painting is an exciting way to introduce color theory through mixing paints. Most toddlers are on their way to mastering color recognition, which means it’s time for the next step. Using two colors keeps things from turning into a big brownish-grey mess o’ paint. Most tots are also still in the scribble stage and getting pretty comfortable using pencils, crayons, and markers to draw, draw, draw. This activity encourages kids to use the entire paper, focusing on the big picture, and use something exciting (fingers!) to make those big scribbles.
Start by taping a sheet of white drawing paper to your work area or on a plastic place mat. Offer your toddler a selection of stickers to peel and stick to the paper. We used a combination of puffy stickers as well as regular stickers to mix things up and add to the fun textural feel when finger painting.
Once your tot has finished stickering, place about a tablespoon of one color of finger paint on the paper. Encourage your child to spread that finger paint all over the paper until it is completely covered.
Now add a small dollop of another color of finger paint for your child to mix with the first color observing what color is created. See if your child can figure it out all on her own!
Let the finger paint dry and then invite your child to peel the stickers from the paper revealing the white paper underneath. Removing the stickers takes focus and concentration – as well use of those fine-motor skills!
Hang the finished sticker finger paint creation on the fridge for all to see.