I’ve never met a preschooler who doesn’t enjoy painting. Painting is a great activity for children. Besides being fun, it has lots of other amazing benefits such as fostering creativity, strengthening memory, building problem solving and motor skills, providing relief from stress, promoting an optimistic attitude and nurturing emotional growth.1
It also helps children learn to write better, increases their neural connections, helps them understand themselves and their world around them and helps them connect with others. 2
Research has shown that ‘a child who is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property—key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twenty-first century.’3
Many parents are hesitant to allow their child to paint because of the mess and the post activity cleaning that is required. But I do think that the benefits to the child is worth the effort!
One thing I’ve learnt with painting with my children is that it’s very important to have all the material prepped and laid out before you start (including cleaning material, such as cloth, tissue, wet wipes, change of clothes, etc.). If the children is smaller, they may require complete supervision from the parent.
Here are a few ideas of some painting activities you can do with your preschooler.
1. Symmetrical Painting
Things Required: paints, paper, paintbrush (or dropper)
Method: Fold the paper in half. Put a few drops of paint on one side of the paper using a paintbrush or a dropper. The paint should be quite thick. Fold the paper again. Let your child move their fingers around the paper. If you press from the fold of the paper to the outer ends, you will get some very pretty designs. Open the paper and watch your child enjoy the beautiful design they have created.
2. Blow Painting
Things Required: straw, a plate, paints, paintbrush or dropper, paper
Method: Mix the paint with a little water. Put a few drops of paint on the paper using a paintbrush or a dropper. Let the child blow over the paint drop with a straw. (It may take your child a while to figure out how to blow out of the straw, rather than suck through it!) It’s lots of fun watching the paint spread. You can create all sorts of interesting art with this method.
3. Flower and Leaf Printing
Things Required: flowers, a plate, paints, paper
Method: Mix the paint with a little water on a plate. Press the leaf or the flower on the paint. Ensure that it is fully covered with paint. You may need to it a few times before the paint catches on to it. Press it on the paper and watch your child gasp with excitement as they see the beautiful leaf or flower print they have created.
4. Hand Painting
Things Required: A plate, paints, paper, a cloth to wipe of the paint (before it goes all over the house!)
Method: Put a little paint on a plate. Ask your child to press their hand on the plate and ensure that it is covered completely with paint. You could even use a paintbrush to paint their hands. Carefully place your child’s hand on the paper and press it down properly so that the paint is transferred onto the paper. Make sure your child doesn’t move their hand once they place it on the paper. You can also do this with their feet. These are great keepsakes to remember how small your children once were! You can also make some really nice designs with this (e.g. hen, eagle, cow, butterfly (use two hands), etc.) Click here to see a fun family keepsake you can make with handprints.
5. Painting with Toys
Things Required: toys (e.g. cars, plastic animals, etc.) a plate, paints, paper
Method: Find some toys that have some good prints. I love using cars with cool tyres. Dinosaurs also make some interesting paw prints. Put a little paint on a plate. (It should be quite thick to get good prints.)
6. Feather Painting
Things Required: feather, paints, paper
Method: Instead of a paintbrush, why not get old fashioned and used a feather! Have a plate with some paint, and let your child dip their feather in the paint and paint on the paper. Feathers create some interesting patterns and it’s a great way for children to develop their fine motor skills.
Watch this space for more fun painting activities you can do with your child.
3. The International Child Art Foundation