Let’s face it, no matter how much vacuuming and sweeping we do, things just get messy when you have kids. Our little ones constantly try new things, take toys apart to see how they work, and abandon activities before they’re completed.
This leaves a mess behind, and who gets stuck with the clean-up? Well, we know it’s generally not the littlest ones, so why not make a mess you’ll enjoy? We are talking about painting with your kiddos, and specifically, a finger painting day.
It’s a beneficial activity that will help develop a lot of skills that will help your child and can be a great bonding experience for the whole family.
10 Finger Painting Ideas
You’re ready to paint, but you need some extra inspiration to keep it fun and interesting. These ideas will help add to the sensory depths your kids will reach with finger painting and can be added little by little to each painting activity.
1. Work With Shapes
If you want to make finger painting even more fun, sponges of different shapes and sizes can help. Finger painting with sponges gives kids a chance to be extra creative and come up with color and shape combinations that catch their eyes.
Sponges soak up paint easily — they’re sponges, after all — making them a low-effort addition to a finger painting session. You can use special sponges made for painting or just grab some from your kitchen.
2. Kitchen Tools
Here’s another idea: add some paint to a canvas or piece of paper and use different spatulas, rolling pins, or other kitchen utensils to spread the color around. It may not be their fingers on the canvas, but it presents a unique way to incorporate fine motor skill practice with commonly-used utensils.
This activity encourages children to think outside the box and see the possibilities that extend beyond traditional uses for tools, an important feature of constructive play.
Warning ahead of time: this idea will add to the mess. Nevertheless, adding cups of glitter or sand to your finger painting activity can be a blast for your kids.
Glitter makes finger painting more tactile and adds a pop of shiny color to your kid’s canvas. Working with tactile elements like glitter is something that will further kids’ motor skills as well. This idea is best to try outside since glitter has the capacity to stick around for days or weeks after the crafting experience has passed.
For this idea, have your kids find their favorite small items to see what works well as a “paintbrush.” Small cars, play necklaces, plastic figurines, and bath toys are perfect items to use with paints. They’re small, so they fit into growing hands, and they’ll wash off fast and easily.
Similarly, you can encourage children to give their favorite washable toys a new paint job. Then, the toys and children can hop in the bath to get clean.
A set of plastic letters will make a fun phonics activity. You and your kids can dip letters in paint, add them to the canvas, then practice the names and sounds of each letter.
This finger painting activity helps your kids have fun and learn simultaneously, which is always a plus.
6. Food Items
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables out there to try, so the sky’s the limit with using food items instead of paintbrushes. You can cut various foods in half or into quarters, and your child can have fun finding out the different shapes and patterns they make with paint on the canvas.
Painting with food helps your child be inquisitive about how things work and how they create, but it will also expand their understanding of different foods that are still new to them.
The more comfortable they get with touching different veggies, the more likely they are to want to eat them, not just paint with them! Eventually, this sensory play could lead them to taste them — and maybe enjoy them more than they expected.
7. Extra Mediums
Keep that inquisitive mind growing by finding other mediums to use for paint. Straws, funnels, plastic bags, and many more random household items can transform into inventive paintbrushes.
Your kids will find out how household items work as paintbrushes, and they’ll be able to deduce which items are the best tools for the job. This keeps them guessing and wondering and expanding their knowledge of the world around them.
8. Outside Items
You can use small shovels, old gardening gloves, and bits and pieces of hoses to paint on canvases. But outdoor items can also make great alternatives to traditional canvases and get some fresh air.
Ask your children to create pet rocks or decorative rocks for the garden. Better yet, paint and decorate pots for new plants for your garden. These activities will help them fine-tune essential motor skills by being more precise in their painting and hand movements. After the craft is finished, they’ll swell with pride at seeing their work decorating the yard.
This is more about the subject matter of your paintings but will also get them thinking about items to use as multimedia for their paintings. Set a painting activity aside to paint the different seasons.
Have your child think about the four seasons and the weather accompanying each one. Then, have them find items like cotton balls, construction paper, and q-tips that they can use to create the scenes. For an enhanced sensory experience, use natural items pertaining to the season (like fallen leaves in autumn) to create art.
With this task, children work to develop their comprehension of the environment and expand cognitive functions.
10. Greeting Cards
Add additional meaning to craft time by creating greeting cards to send to family and friends. Help your children address the envelopes and send out the cards to their loved ones. This action practices penmanship and literacy skills.
Additionally, it teaches the value of handwritten correspondence and helps form connections between long-distance family members.
The Benefits of Finger Painting
There are two main ways that finger painting can help your child understand the world around them through sensory play and fine-tuning motor skills.
This activity can support development and growth by age one, so don’t be afraid to explore ideas.
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s senses. New sensory experiences, including touch, smell, or sometimes taste, might be worth trying. Finger painting is one of these sensory play activities.
This type of play is beneficial because it expands your child’s understanding of their senses and encourages them to start exploring the world around them more confidently.
Motor skills drive our daily lives — from opening a jar to turning a key. These skills are fine-tuned throughout our childhood and stay with us into adulthood.
As your child gets older, you may start to see pictures during finger painting time get more and more distinct and recognizable. When they enter those big kid years, hand them a paintbrush, and a more refined palette might continue to develop these skills.
However, finger painting isn’t only for toddlers and young ones; older kids and tweens may enjoy some chill time to listen to some music, get creative, and relax.
Prep the Scene
Before diving in, prepare a paint area that you can control to a degree to keep the rest of your space clean.
Here is a list of items to check off before you start inspiring your young Picasso:
- Paint: Check the label to see if the paint is child-friendly. Any paint labeled “AP” for Approved Product is safest. Those bearing the letters CL (Cautionary Label) are not safe for children and are marked for adult use only.
- Other Materials: In addition to paints and a canvas or paper, you’ll need a few other items. Cups for paints, a line with clothespins to hang wet drawings or a table to lay them on, a smock, and a drop cloth for the floor are key items to have ready.
- Background Music: Have a kid-friendly playlist of songs to play for the duration of the activity. It will add to the fun and signal the beginning and end of painting, keeping everyone on task and helping to engage the clean-up.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Messy
Finger painting is a messy game, but let’s face it, life can be messy no matter the activity or situation. Here at Blue Squirrel, we think you shouldn’t be afraid to get your hands in there and get messy with your kids. The more they see you explore, the more they’ll be encouraged to do the same.
You’re going to have a mess to clean up either way — you might as well have fun first!
- Finger painting: activity for children 1-3 years | RaisingChildren
- Exploring the benefits of sensory play | Goodstart
- Fine and Gross Motor Skills in Children | VeryWellFamily
- Family Friendly - playlist by sevenpeaksmaint | Spotify
- Help Your Child Build Fine Motor Skills | NAEYC
- Don’t Forget to Write! Why Letters and Cards Are More Important Than Ever | Bloomberg
- Safe Use of Art Products | National Capital Poison Center