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Activities

10 Unique Ways to Paint with Kids

We’ve painted with everything from balloons and empty eggs to brushes made from nature, used science-inspired techniques, and even painted with different body parts.

10 Unique Ways to Paint with Kids

Credit: Jenn Cox

My son is 11, which means that for 11 years I’ve been searching for two things: the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (that’s for another article) and the most fun way to paint. We’ve painted with everything from balloons and empty eggs to brushes made from nature, used science-inspired techniques, and even painted with different body parts.

Here are my top 10 favourite and unique painting techniques for kids.

Quick tip: We try numerous painting techniques on one canvas every summer. That way, we’re not going through tons and tons of canvases (and creating clutter). I document the paint techniques on the back with the dates. It becomes a nice keepsake of each summer.

Fly swatter

Don’t you just love the sound of a plastic flyswatter slamming down onto a flat surface?! It’s even better smacking a blob of paint! This is a messy one, so you’ll want to set things up outside but it’s really fun (make sure you participate too). We set up a few canvases (we reuse old ones, but thicker cardstock should work fine, too) and put a whole bunch of blobs of paint on them. Then, armed with our trusty flyswatters, we got to swatting! The end result was loud, vibrant and very cool.

Baking soda and vinegar

The first time I did this for my son, he was around 3, and I found myself doing it daily for a month afterward because he loved it so much. What you want to do first is make paints made out of baking soda and a bit of water. Once you have a creamy consistency (it will be quite thick), add different coloured food dye (I put the paints in a metal muffin tin to keep them separated).

Then let your child paint a canvas. Now comes the fun part: give them a small dish with white vinegar and an eye dropper, and have them add drops of vinegar to their paintings. The colours will bubble and fizz – it’s exciting and interactive, and they’ll do it over and over (and over). Kids love the cool reaction of the baking soda and vinegar, so stock up! You won’t be doing this just once.

Water coloring on paper Credit: Jenn Cox

Shaving cream

Make sure you wear rubber gloves for this one because your hands will get stained. Kids love anything with texture, and shaving cream is super fun to play with. Put a thick layer of shaving cream on a baking sheet and then add drops of food colouring. Have your child swirl the colours using a toothpick through the shaving cream. Then, press a thick piece of paper or cardstock onto the surface of the shaving cream, lift it, and wipe off the excess shaving cream. What you’re left with is a psychedelic swirly painting that not only looks cool but smells yummy too.

Water color painting on fabric Credit: Jenn Cox

Water gun

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Playing with water guns is fun, but it’s even more fun when you use them to “paint.” Fill cheap dollar store water pistols with coloured water and take aim at a canvas. Or, to take it another step further, wear white shirts and have a battle – when each person is assigned a colour, you’ll be able to see who hit whom. In the process, you’ll create some groovy tie-dye shirts as well.

water gun painting Credit: Jenn Cox

On the ceiling

This is not only a painting activity but a history and art lesson too. Some of the world’s most beautiful paintings were done on ceilings, including the most famous one in the Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo. Can your kiddos do the same? Tape a piece of paper to the underside of a chair and have your child lie down under the chair to try their hands at painting on a “ceiling.” It’s a lot of fun to see what they can come up with.

With feet

One of our funniest painting activities is trying to paint using only our feet. I covered a wall with newspaper and then hung a piece of paper in the middle. Then, I challenged my son and niece to try painting with the brushes wedged between their toes. They laid down on the floor and got to work and let me tell you: it’s harder than it looks! We also tried another variation where they sat on chairs and painted on sheets of paper taped to the floor. The results were messy and hilarious, and it was great fun!

Blindfolded

Some of the world’s most gifted artists were visually impaired in some way, including Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keefe, and Leonardo da Vinci. Cover your child’s eyes and see what they can create without sight. If you have more than one kid, issue them a challenge (paint a house) and see who can create something that at least resembles the item you pitched! This can be carried even further with Play-Doh and sculpting, Legos and building, pencils and crayons and drawing.

Painting with markers on a canvas with an easel Credit: Jenn Cox

Nature paintbrushes

Some of the best tools come from the outdoors, and there are so many different things you can find in nature that can be used as a paintbrush. Not only is it a lot of fun searching outside for things to try but it’s just as amusing to try painting with your found objects. We’ve used everything from bundled blades of grass to moss and different leaves – they each create their own special effects.

Finger painting on an easel outside Credit: Jenn Cox

In balloons

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This one will take some work to set up, but it’s so much fun and the result is amazing! Squeeze some paint into several small balloons, blow them up a bit, and tie them. Tape them to different spots on the surface of a canvas. Then, prop the canvas up on an easel and use darts to pop the balloons. They end up blowing paint across the canvas and becoming an awesome one-of-a-kind painting.

Eggshell

This is definitely the most labour-intensive form of painting, but it’s also the most fun – I promise, it’s worth all the effort. You’ll need to start collecting empty eggshells a few weeks ahead of time, and when you use those eggs, you’ll want to try cracking them near the top by making the smallest opening possible. Rinse the empty eggshells out with warm, soapy water and let them dry.

Once you’ve collected at least a dozen, add a big squirt of paint into each shell (you can do just one colour or a few, plus we’ve also added glitter), and then cover the opening with a small square of tissue paper (I just slide the square of tissue paper across the end of a glue stick and adhere it to the shell). Once you have all your paint-filled eggs ready, you can throw them at the canvas.

You can get two or three throws out of each one because they don’t completely break the first time and that’s okay (good, in fact, because it extends the time of the activity). I know it sounds like a ton of work (like, who wants to wash empty eggshells), and it definitely takes some legwork, but there’s nothing more satisfying than throwing eggs and watching them splat and break.

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