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Saturday, June 25, 2022

50 Creative Painting Ideas for Kids

If your kids are like mine then painting is one of their favourite activities. My girls would paint every day if we had the time. To keep things interesting I'm always changing up what type of painting we do, sometimes it's regular painting with washable paint on paper, other times we do salt painting, magic paintings, flower painting and more.

I've put together a huge list of 50 different painting ideas for kids to help you get creative with your children at home, or students in the classroom. There's ideas for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school children. Most of them don't even require a paintbrush.

child looking at painting

Painting is a great way to combine sensory exploration as well as creativity. Painting can also be used as a play based learning opportunity to teach children concepts such as letters, numbers, shapes, colours and colour mixing.

Tips for painting with kids

  • Follow their interests - pick a painting activity that fits their current interests e.g. car painting if they love cars.
  • Focus on the process not the outcome, especially with younger children. Having fun being creative is more important than making the perfect masterpiece.
  • Do messy painting ideas outside, or use a plastic tablecloth and art smock.
  • Use edible, taste safe paints or mess free painting ideas with babies.
  • Washable paints are always easier to clean up!

50 Creative & Fun Painting Techniques for Kids

In this list you'll find easy painting ideas that are great for both active children who like making messy, immersive process art, as well as ideas for children who like more precise and intricate painting. There's vertical and horizontal painting ideas, as well as indoor and outdoor activities.

All of these painting techniques are fun ways for children to express their creativity, explore different processes and outcomes and build their motor skills and sensory awareness through tactile actions. The paintings they create can be displayed at home, or easily repurposed into artistic gifts.

Animal Figurine Painting

Did you know you can use animal figurines to paint? It's just one of the creative ways we use our collection of animal figurines. Gather a selection of different animals and dip their feet into paint then print across paper. This is a great way to explore the different footprints each animal has.

Ball Painting

painting with balls in a box

Ball painting is a fun and interactive way for children to create paintings without getting messy themselves. It's a great way to combine movement and creativity to make unique abstract paintings. Follow our instructions for painting with balls here.

Balloon Painting

painting made with balloons

Balloons are a great way to make painting fun. Blow up a balloon just big enough to fit into little hands then dip it in paint and press onto paper or canvas. You'll notice it sometimes creates a textured print and sometimes a smooth print, depending how much paint you use and which part of the balloon is dipped into the paint. Preschool Play and Learn have lots of balloon painting activities to try.

Bubble Painting

painting made with bubbles

Did you know you can paint with actual bubbles? To turn bubbles into a work of art you'll need to add some washable paint to give them some colour. Follow the steps at Happiness is Homemade to create your own pretty bubble paintings.

Bubble Wrap painting

bubble wrap print

Next time you get a package delivered, keep the bubble wrap and use it for some fun bubble wrap painting. Kids can have some sensory fun simply painting and popping the bubble wrap itself, or they can make prints by pressing a piece of paper onto the painted bubble wrap. Find out even more ways to use bubble wrap for painting at First Palette. If you're doing this as a classroom activity, you can buy bubble wrap in bulk rolls.

Block Painting

toddler painting with wooden blocks

Painting with blocks is a fun way to create abstract geometric paintings like Taming Little Monsters. If you use shape blocks then the finished design can also be used as a shape matching activity with the blocks after. You can also experiment with different types of blocks like Lego, Duplo, wooden, foam and plastic blocks to see what different prints they make.

Blow Painting Using Straws

blow paintings made with straws

Blow painting with straws is a really fun way for kids to spread paint around without actually touching the paint at all. They'll need to angle their straw and adjust their breathe to move the paint where they want it to go. Once the paintings are dry they can be turned into monsters or germs like Simple Everyday Mom did here.

Car Painting

toddler painting with cars

Painting with cars is another fun way to combine movement and sensory exploration to create fabulous artwork like Coffee Cups & Crayons did. It's also a great activity to get children to cross the midline while painting which is really important for their brain development. This one can get a bit messy though so you'll need some soapy water to clean off the cars after.

Chalk Painting

chalk painting on concrete driveway

Making chalk paint is a great way to use up all the little broken bits of chalk and give them a new life. It's also a fun outdoor activity for kids during summer. It can easily be washed off with water {or leave your paintings there until it rains}. The girls had heaps of fun painting our footpath and driveway.

Cotton Ball Painting

cotton ball and peg paintbrush

You can make a DIY paintbrush with a cotton ball and peg. These are a great way for younger children to work on their fine motor skills as they grasp the peg. It's also easier for them to paint as they just have to dab the cotton ball. We used this method to paint our Earth day paper plates.

Cookie Cutter Painting

cookie cutter painting

Cookie cutters are a really easy way for younger children to make proper shapes with little effort. Simply dip the cookie cutter {or playdough cutter} into paint them stamp the outline on paper. They can use multiple cutters and paint colours to make abstract art like Projects With Kids.

Crayon Resist Painting {aka Magic Paintings}

crayon resist painting reveals the word see

If your kids love magic then they'll love crayon resist painting because they can make a picture {or letters, words, shapes etc} magically appear before their eyes as they paint. This is one of my girls favourite ways to paint, they get so excited to see what the surprise will be. Follow our step by step crayon resist painting instructions.

Exploding Paint Bombs 

exploding paint bombs

If your kids love high intensity activities and you don't mind a bit of mess then make these exploding paint bombs like Mombrite did. You'll need some empty film canisters {or any other small plastic containers}. Word of warning, this one is quite explosive, so you'll want to do it outside.

Easter Egg Painting

painting with plastic easter eggs

Once Easter is over keep the plastic Easter eggs and use them for painting. Split the eggs in half and dip them in paint to create abstract circle paintings like My Bored Toddler. Kids can experiment with different colours and numbers of circles and make overlapping circles then colour them in.

Egg Painting

painting with eggs

A really fun outdoor painting activity is to paint with eggs. You'll need to carefully fill washed egg shells with paint and then the kids will have heaps of fun throwing the eggs to create their masterpieces. Egg painting is a great activity for kids in the trajectory schema who love throwing things, but be warned it can get a little messy. For step by step instructions visit Lil Tigers.

Fizzy Painting

fizzy painting with bicarb and vinegar

Fizzy painting combines art and science by using a chemical reaction to create the final design. It's a fun way to use the basic bicarb and vinegar experiment to create a unique and colourful painting. Once the colourful eruptions have dried they'll leave a colourful splotchy design on the paper. Find out how to do it at Taming Little Monsters.

Flower Painting

flower painting

If you have some flowers that are starting to wilt, instead of throwing them out or composting them, create some pretty flower paintings. If you don't have any flowers at home go on a nature walk around the neighbourhood and pick a few different types of flowers to discover how each one creates different designs when you paint with them.

Fly Swatter Painting

toddler painting with a fly swatter

A super fun, but also super messy, way to paint is fly swatter painting. You'll definitely want to do this one outdoors and in clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. I also recommend using a fly swatter that you've bought specifically for this activity, not one you use in the house. You can get the cute handprint fly swatters Happy Toddler Playtime has used from Amazon below.

Fruit & Vegetable Painting

painting made using fruit and vegetable stamps

Next time you're cutting up fruit and vegetables for the kids, keep the ends that you'd normally throw out or compost, and use them for some fruit and vegetable painting. This huge canvas was created by Fantastic Fun and Learning using lots of different types of fruits and vegetables. Celery ends, capsicums and broccoli florets make really pretty shapes and textures, and potatoes can be used to carve all sorts of designs.

Foil Painting

painting on aluminium foil

Painting on aluminium foil is a great sensory experience for kids as it provides visual, tactile and auditory stimulation in addition to creating an artwork. Rather than absorbing into the foil, the paint will slip and slide across the surface and make crinkling sounds as it's applied. See how Taming Little Monsters did their foil painting here.

Hand Print Painting

toddler painting with their hands

Hand print painting is a fun way to combine a sensory and art experience into one. Just like finger painting, it's as much about feeling the texture of the paint as it is about creating an artwork. Younger children will love exploring painting with their hands, but it can get a bit messy, especially if they get excited. 

Older kids can also do hand print painting and turn their prints into many creative hand print designs. Find out how Built By Kids did fun hand print painting here.

Ice Painting

ice paints

Making ice paints is a fun activity on it's own, then once they're frozen they can be used to create some fun sensory paintings. The ice paints will be cold and melt quite quickly so they need to be used asap once removed from the freezer. See how Fun With Mama made ice paintings here.

Muffin Tin Painting

painting with a muffin tin

Muffin tins aren't just for baking, they're also a great painting tool too. Although I recommend using a separate tin, or one from the mud kitchen, rather than one you actually cook with. Cover the base of the muffin tin with paint and use it to press down and create fun circular paintings. Experiment with different colours and patterns like Babble Dabble Do.

Mess Free Painting 

mess free painting with cling wrap

If the thought of painting with the kids makes you cringe because of the mess then try this mess free painting technique - cling wrap painting. Use thick cardstock or a canvas, add the amount of paint you want and then add cling wrap tightly over the top. The kids can then poke and squash the cling wrap to make an abstract painting. See how Arty Crafty Kids did their cling film painting here.

Nature Brush Painting

nature paintbrushes using sticks and plants

Making nature paintbrushes is a fun outdoor activity that you can then use to create some fun paintings. Go on a nature walk and collect different sticks and leaves from various plants then wrap them together like Messy Little Monster to make unique nature brushes. Experiment with different sized leaves and textures to see how they spread the paint differently.

Paint Pouring

paintings made from paint pouring

Paint pouring is a fun way to layer different colours of paint and use gravity to create the final design. To do this you'll need to quickly pour layers of paint onto a canvas then tilt it to move the paint around. It sounds like it would make a big mess, but it's actually pretty easy to do paint pouring with kids and relatively mess free. Follow the simplified instructions from Me Them and the Others.

Pipette Painting

painting bread with food colouring

Using pipettes with liquid watercolours or water and food colouring is a great way to make artwork and demonstrate absorption. We've done this on ice cubes, clear gelatine, paper towels and even made edible artwork by painting rainbow bread {above}. Yes the girls ate it after.

Pointillism Painting

pointillism painting with q-tips

Pointillism is a painting process that uses lots of coloured dots to create an image. Kids can make pointillism paintings using q-tips {like The Artful Parent above}, the top end of a pencil, their fingers, paint sticks or dot markers.

Pinecone and Conker Painting

painting made with pinecones and conkers

Another way to paint with nature is to use pinecones and conkers. Forage around in your garden, local park or on a nature walk in the neighbourhood to collect some pinecones and conkers {if you're not in the UK you can use other seeds or seed pods}. Follow the different techniques Kids Craft Room used to create their paintings. This would be a great activity for a nature based playgroup. 

Pendulum Painting

pendulum painting for kids

Pendulum painting uses paint dripping from a swinging pendulum to create unique elliptical artworks. Artist's like Jackson Pollock have used this technique to create famous large scale paintings. You can recreate a smaller version of pendulum painting at home by making a DIY pendulum from recyclables. Follow the instructions at Hello Wonderful.

Spray Bottle Painting

spray bottle painting on fence

Spray bottle painting is a fun outdoor painting activity and a great way to build up hand strength. It can be done either painting with watercolours then spraying water over the paint like Adventure in a Box has done, or you can use liquid watercolours inside a few different spray bottles and spray the paint onto paper. It's easiest to set up a big sheet of paper on the fence.

Snow Painting

snow painting

If you live in a cold climate where it snows, take the kids outside and paint the snow. Don't worry, it washes away as the snow melts, in the mean time it's a fun way to decorate the snow. Follow the instructions at Messy Little Monster.

Shaving Cream Painting

shaving cream marbled prints

Painting with shaving cream is a super fun process art activity that creates beautiful marbled paintings. All you need is shaving cream and food colouring. Follow the directions at Natural Beach Living to create your own marbled prints. They can then be used as cards, wrapping paper, or displayed on an art wall.

Soapy Bubble Painting

soapy bubble paintings

Soapy bubble painting is another really fun way to paint with bubbles. These bubble paintings start out foamy and dry with beautiful bubbly prints. You'll need a few foam soap dispensers and the paint recipe from A Little Pinch of Perfect.

Salad Spinner Painting

paintings made in a salad spinner

Using a salad spinner to create paintings is a great way to combine movement and mess, but it's also mess free as all of the paint is contained within the salad spinner. You can make paintings on cardboard and paper inside a salad spinner, we even made spin art Easter eggs. I recommend buying a salad spinner specifically to use for painting and always use washable paint so it's easy to clean.

Scrunch Painting

scrunch painting

Scrunch painting is a really fun painting technique that can be done using different materials scrunched up into balls. The scrunched materials will all create different patterns and prints when dipped in paint. Picklebums used alfoil, a plastic bag, cling wrap, a cotton scarf and newspaper to create scrunched paintings.

Screwdriver Splatter Painting

splatter painting with a screwdriver and ballons

Screwdrivers and balloons aren't usually what comes to mind when you think of painting tools, but they can be used together to create amazing abstract splatter paintings. You'll want to do this one outside though as it can get very messy. Follow the directions at Hello Wonderful and only do this activity with children who aren't scared of popping balloons.

Slide Painting

slide painting on a toddler slide

If you have a toddler slide at home then try slide painting, it's a great activity for kids who love movement and children who are in the trajectory schema. You'll need some butchers paper, anything with wheels to slide down in the paint and something to contain the mess at the bottom. Have a look how I Can Teach My Child did slide painting here.

Splatter Painting

splatter painting

Splatter painting is one of the most fun ways to get creative with paint, however it can get messy. Jackson Pollock made splatter painting popular with his many famous abstract artworks made by splattering and throwing paint across different canvases. You can recreate this by following the instructions at Twitchetts. Definitely do this one outside.

Salt Painting

salt painted fireworks

Salt painting is a fun way to combine process art with science. Children will have fun creating salt crusted images then painting them to add colour. Follow our easy instructions for salt painting fireworks.

Scrape Painting

Scrape painting is a really easy painting technique that only involves 2 steps. Add some drops of paint onto the surface then scrape it down the page with a flat object. Scrape painting can be done with a ruler, plastic store cards, cardboard or a squeegee.

Symmetry Painting

I still remember making symmetry paintings in preschool and thinking it was totally magic. To make symmetry paintings fold a piece of paper in half, unfold it and put some drops of paint on one side only. Then fold the paper up and squish it flat. When it's opened up again the same image will appear on both sides of the page.

Sponge Painting

rainbow sponge art

If you don't have a paintbrush and the kids really want to paint, grab a new kitchen sponge and do some sponge painting. You can use a thick sponge to swipe paint like Kids Craft Room, or cut up some thinner sponges into different shapes and use them to print different scenes. 

Tape Resist Painting

tape resist easter egg painting

Tape resist painting is another resist process art technique, however instead of using crayons, you use washi tape to create the area of resistance. This is a simple process art technique that can be used to create abstract stain glass window style geometric paintings. Follow our step by step tape resist painting instructions here.

Toothbrush Painting

painting with toothbrushes

Toothbrushes aren't just for brushing your teeth, before you replace your old toothbrush, you can use it as a paintbrush as well. Toothbrush painting is a great way to explore texture and practice using a brush that's held horizontally, instead of vertically, which is great for hand/eye co-ordination. Find out more about toothbrush painting at Kiddy Charts.

Toilet Paper Roll Painting

toilet paper roll heart painting

The humble toilet paper roll is one of my favourite craft resources because they can be used for so many activities. They can easily be manipulated into shapes then used for painting like we did to make these heart stamp paintings. We've also used them to create fireworks paintings. You can find even more toilet paper roll painting ideas here and if you'd rather use cardboard tubes you can makes these paintings with empty paper towel tubes or craft rolls.

Utensil Painting

painting with kitchen utensils

Kids will have so much fun exploring the patterns made by different kitchen utensils. Get a few cheap kitchen utensils from the dollar store, or use the mud kitchen items, to create some fun paintings like Happy Toddler Playtime. Spatulas, potato mashers, forks and silicone cooking brushes work really well.

Water Painting

Probably the easiest way to paint with kids is with water. It's also really quick to set up and relatively mess free as it disappears when it dries so there's no clean up. All you need is a container of water and some brushes or sponges, then let the kids get creative painting on different surfaces like the fence, pathway or driveway.

If you want to do water painting indoors without the kids splashing water everywhere, then you can use magic water wow books or a water Chinese calligraphy mat. Both magically create paintings once water is added and when the water dries they can be reused again with more water.

Water Pistol Painting

water pistol painting

If your kids have water guns then they'll love painting with them, just make sure they're pointed at the paper because it might get messy! Fill your water pistol with liquid watercolours and squirt paint at the paper to make a super fun painting. It's also a great way to strengthen little fingers as they squeeze the trigger. See how Fireflies and Mudpies paintings turned out here.

Water Bead Painting

paintings created with giant water beads

Another really fun way to paint is with giant water beads. The technique is similar to ball painting, but using the water beads adds another sensory element. See how Hello Wonderful created their water bead paintings here. *Water beads are only recommended for children over 3yrs of age and must be used under strict adult supervision as they can pose a choking risk.

fun and creative painting ideas for kids

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