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Tips for Stress-Free Painting with Kids

Posted By Janel On August 21, 2012 @ 1:29 am In Family Fun,Memory Making,Rainy Day Survival Kit | 10 Comments

Mixing paint and children can have a mom quaking in her boots. Life as MOM contributor, Janel [4], demystifies the fine art of letting your kids be artistic.

“Mom, how in the world did a 3-year old create a masterpiece like that?”

That is what my daughter Ella said when she saw this postcard from her cousin FishChick3. I couldn’t help but giggle at her words. Then Ella defended her comment, “What? There are masterpieces that look like that!” Well, I couldn’t argue with Ella’s logic.

Seeing FishChick3’s masterpiece reminded me how much children love painting. As a mom, I know that I don’t allow my girls the opportunity frequently enough. The last time they painted was a couple of months ago when I picked up some simple wooden birdhouses from the dollar store. I was shocked at how much they enjoyed painting them. They spent well over an hour working on their creations.

An hour without bickering. An hour without whining. An hour of fun.

So, why exactly don’t I let them do this more often?!

Oh yeah…painting can be messy. But honestly, there are some simple ways to make a painting activity easier and less stressful – both to set up AND clean up.


Try out these tips for stress-free painting with kids.

Protect your work area.

When I worked as a childcare provider, we always used a cheap, plastic tablecloth to protect the work surface. It worked fabulously. Plastic tablecloths are:

  • Easy to set-up: Just put it out on the table, and you’re ready. Newspaper is more difficult and time-consuming to set up, plus it can get ink on your hands and project.
  • Better protection than newsprint: Since they provide a waterproof barrier, they can protect against paint smudges as well as water spills.
  • Reusable: When painting is done, wipe off the paint with a sponge, fold your tablecloth and store it until next time.

If your kids will be seated in upholstered chairs, simply toss a towel over them for protection.

Get ready for clean-up.

Kids + Paint = Mess. There is no way around that. So expect it, and don’t let it upset you when it happens. Have some baby wipes and paper towels on hand to deal with messy fingers or spills at a moment’s notice.

Assemble the supplies.

You can make things really simple by creating a painting supply box. Stock it with several different bottles of cheap acrylic paint, paintbrushes in different sizes, bowls for water, paper plates to use as palettes, and of course your plastic tablecloth. When your kids are ready to paint, you can have them set-up and ready to go within minutes.

Get the kids ready.

If your kids have art aprons, have them wear those while they create their masterpieces. However, one of your old t-shirts will work just as well too. Also, if your child has long hair, pull it back in a ponytail or bun so that it stays out of the way.

Let them create!

The possibilities are endless as to what your child can create. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Wooden crafts: Check the dollar store or craft store for inexpensive wooden items. You can usually find many options for just $1.
  • Marble Painting: Kids love marble painting too…although this might require some hands-on help from you. You’ll need a plastic container large enough to hold your paper (like a rectangular dishwashing bucket), some marbles and glitter. Sometimes marbles are hard to find – just use those rubber bouncy balls instead, but make sure that the bouncy balls don’t get away from you!
    1. Place the paper in the bottom of the bucket.
    2. Add drops of paint onto the paper and then roll the marbles on top to spread the paint. If you’ll be doing several paintings, it may be easier to keep your colors separate by adding paint to the marbles in separate disposable cups. Just scoop the paint-covered marbles out of the cup and onto the paper and let your child roll them around.
    3. Add glitter! Remove the marbles, and keep the paper in the box to contain the mess. Let your child shake glitter onto the still-wet creation.
  • Make A Masterpiece: Let your child use her imagination and just create on construction paper or cardstock. Show her how to mix primary colors to make new ones. When her masterpiece is dry, you can hang it up for display or do as FishChick3 did and transform it into postcards. Just use peel-and-stick postcard backing and cut the artwork to the appropriate size.

Janel is a stay-at-home mom of two daughters and a “law school wife” in Virginia. Raised in a budget-conscious and DIY-minded family, she blogs about motherhood, crafts, and living on a law school budget at Life with Lucie and Ella [6].

How do you “do art” at your house?

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