Painting With Kids

Tips for painting with kids from

I got a few questions about painting with kids after writing my recent post about painting with toddlers and preschoolers, so I thought I would write about how painting works at our house.

Encouraging kids to get creative with paint at

I find that even kids who stay away from most crafting tend to enjoy paint. Painting is a wonderful sensory experience, involving four senses: touch, sight, smell, and hearing. I love vibrant paints for kids, and usually buy these Crayola washable paints (affiliate link) because they include beautiful colors and have a gouache-like texture, and wash about of everything. Watercolor paper (affiliate link) makes for especially beautiful paintings, but most of the time my kids paint on plain old printer paper, which – unfortunately – bunches up a bit as the paintings dry.

Painting with kids at

I have seen a lot of neat artist study activities you can do, and my son did several when he was in preschool, which I adored. When we paint at home, though, I tend to give my kids a bunch of paint and set them free to create whatever they like. Sometimes they get messy, like my son above and my eight-year-old’s more controlled handprints earlier in this post.

Painting by a 20-month-old - give limited colors if you want to avoid muddy brown.

My older kids usually get free reign with colors, but sometimes I limit them for my younger kids when I want a particularly pretty end result – like Anna’s painting above.

Exploring color mixing with paints at

Four-year-old Lily is very focused on color mixing at the moment, and her paintings reflect that – they are color studies, rather than representations of objects or stories.

Six-year-old painting of a bridge. Tips for painting with kids from

Six-year-old Johnny has been drawing bridges ever since we went into San Francisco, and it was fun to see that transfer over to his painting.


Eight-year-old Emma surprised me by starting off with this still life of a tomato. She even painted a shadow!

Duck painting by an eight-year-old

She also painted a couple cats and this adorable cat, before moving onto more abstract work:

Encouraging creative self-expression through painting -

Can you spot the musical notes?

I also love this piece, which she made for one-year-old Anna, imitating the techniques Anna uses:

painting is a wonderful creative sensory experience

Do your kids enjoy painting? Do you remember painting as a kid? I remember my mom had tiny little tins that looked like miniature bread pans full of paint. We loved it when she would cover the table with newspaper and pull out those tiny tins of watercolor paints!

Needle Felting Pictures

Needle felting for kids with Artterro

I have wanted to try needle felting for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to finding supplies and figuring out what exactly I needed to do. So, when Artterro asked if I wanted to review their needle felting kit as part of their brand relaunch I said “Yes, please!” I have written about Artterro products before here and here, and I am always impressed  by their product quality. The kits are simple, with limited instructions. I find the combination ideal for trying out a new crafting technique! Their relaunch includes beautiful (100% recycled) box packaging that we plan to turn into a doll house. With this sort of recrafting in mind, Artterro has simply taped the label onto the box, so that you can remove it and have a beautiful clean brown box to work with. Perfect for someone like me who loves cardboard enough to devote both a Pinterest board and a Google+ group to the subject!

It turns out that needle felting really do consist of sticking a needle in and out of wool roving and felt (sitting on top of a sponge) – it is very simple! The kit is targeted at children aged eight and up, which is appropriate given the sharpness of the needle. Eight-year-old Emma made this cat mostly on her own – I helped her with the eyes, nose, and ears, but she did everything else, including the white markings and the ball. I adore this little cat!

Cat needle felted by an 8-year-old

Four-year-old Lily has always felt that she could do anything eight-year-old Emma can do – and, being quite a sophisticated four-year-old, she keeps up pretty well. She was able to make these two little butterflies under close supervision, mainly making sure that she remembered to stay seated at all times while holding the sharp needle. For Lily, I placed the pieces where she wanted them by sticking the needle through three or four times, and then she finished the felting process. She could have placed the pieces on her own, except she had a very specific vision that she was struggling to create with somewhat unruly wool roving.

Needle felted butterflies

We discovered a couple tricks. The more you stick your needle into the felt, the more “set” the picture becomes. In the butterfly photo above, the larger butterfly has been needle felted more extensively than the smaller one, which is why the smaller one looks more fuzzy and less defined. For details or highly defined areas, it helps to roll the roving first, before placing it. You can also define edges by setting the wool roving on the piece of felt so that it lies slightly outside of the area you want to fill, and then tucking it in.

Needle felting tip - roll the wool roving before placing for more defined features

Have you ever tried needle felting? I want to try the 3D version next! Do you have a favorite Artterro kit?

Nurturing Creativity

nurturing creativity at

Disney Interactive teamed up with Google to launch charming short film called Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story that you can watch for free. We watched it with the kids when it first came out on Valentine’s Day, and it’s a delightful story about Blank, an unpainted Vinylmation (Disney collectible), who goes on an epic journey to find his soul mate – so I was excited when I was presented with the opportunity to pair up with them for this sponsored post. The Blank story was very sweet – we particularly liked the hang gliding bit – but my favorite part of the film was its celebration of creativity, even though creative self-expression often creates quite a mess! Nurturing creativity is very important to me – this post about the benefits of crafting for kids touches on many of the benefits I see in living a creative life. Here are a few ways we nurture creativity in our home.

Nurturing Creativity

  • Prioritize free time. Blank has a slower storytelling pace than some movies – and I think that is appropriate for a film that celebrates creativity. To be creative, you need time and space, so that you move away from thoughtless routine and into contemplation and deliberate action.
  • Provide creative tools. We love trying out fancy markers, paints, and brushes, but you don’t need what I call luxury crafting supplies to stimulate creativity. My kids adore drawing with pens and pencils on plain white paper, creating 3D sculptures out of scissors, paper, and tape, and turning cardboard boxes into inexpensive canvases for large scale paintings. Paint is the primary creative tool that we see used in Blank, but nature is also used in a very creative way for my favorite hang gliding scene.
  • Explore your creative side. Young children especially look to parents for guidance as they decide which activities are worth their time and which should be left behind. If you want your children to nurture their creativity, be sure to get creative alongside them. As a bonus, I find that I’m much happier when I’m doing something creative!
  • Find inspiration. Creative inspiration can come from so many places! Nature is an all-time favorite of ours, but my family has also found inspiration in art, science, music, and by learning about the creative hobbies of friends and extended family members. The main characters in Blank inspire others to explore creativity – with a very happy outcome!
  • See mistakes as opportunities. One of my sisters is a professional musician, and she told me once about a music teacher who responded to students’ mistakes with, “How fascinating!” See your own errors and mishaps as doors to exploration, learning, and growth, and your children will view theirs in the same light. Blank is an intriguing character largely because he sees mistakes as opportunities.


Would you like to learn more about Blank ? Here is a trailer:

Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story – Trailer on Disney Video


To celebrate the premiere, Google is also inviting fans to share frames from the film with friends and family as digital greeting cards (very cute frames. I sent one to Mike and he loved it). As an added bonus, sharing a frame unlocks a second special film, “Cranes in Love,” created especially for Google users. Spend your next snow day/rainy day/sick day watching Blank (and then Cranes in Love) with the kids through Google Play on your desktop, tablet, laptop or phone. It’s free, cute, and inspiring.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Encouraging Creativity with High Quality Art Materials


Nothing inspires creativity like new art supplies! Artterro recently sent us their gorgeous art journal kits, and the kids have been drawing every since – even fourteen-month-old Anna – special thanks to Artterro for including her in our package! There is something incredibly inviting about blank sheets of white paper, especially art-quality paper!


My kids have all started drawing long before they could wall – it is a very-much-loved pastime in our home!

These particular art journals come with decorative paper in the front, which seven-year-old Emma and four-year-old Lily have been using to decorate the cover. Minimalist Lily went for large blocks of solid color:


Emma went for a more complex collage look. I enjoyed watching her go through the various print pages included in the book, selecting the ones that she felt would work best together:


Five-year-old Johnny ignored the color and print paper entirely, opting instead to draw dramatic scenes on the covers of his notebook! So did Anna, although her faint pen lines don’t photograph very well.


It is such a joy to see their creativity! From one-year-old Anna:


To four-year-old Lily, who has always adored abstract artwork – the red and brown bit looks a bit like a bird of paradise to me, but she has a policy of not explaining her artwork:


To five-year-old Johnny’s incredibly emotive and action-filled artwork:


And seven-year-old Emma’s gentle horse. Emma’s drawings always have a story behind them!


Do you have a budding artist who could use a beautiful new art journal? Artterro is giving away two of these lovely journals to one reader of this blog with a US shipping address! Just fill out the simple form below to enter the giveaway – good luck!

This giveaway has now ended. Congratulations, Johanna!

Do your kids love to draw? What is your own favorite form of creative expression? I enjoy pretty much any creative art form – even the ones I’m not very “good” at!

Many thanks to Artterro for sending us these art notebooks, and providing two for a giveaway winner! All opinions and ideas are, as always, my own. Thank you for reading my blog!

Gifts Kids can Make: Spin Art


I’m always looking for simple gifts my kids can make. Spin Art is a perfect gift-able kid craft – it looks neat, and it is simple and fun enough that kids will happily mass-produce art in this way for, say, thank you cards! I also like to take multiple cards and frame them as a study of sorts.


We were sent the ALEX Toys Fantastic Spinner – and we love it as a battery-free tool that makes it really easy to create spin art – my three-year-old and five-year-old preschoolers were able to work together to make all of the cards featured in this post! The design of the paint bottles as well as the splash guard made this a virtually mess-free activity (parental supervision is required, especially for very young crafters like these two. Children aged six or over, as recommended on the box, can probably do this entirely on their own). My kids were able to load the paper, start it spinning, and add the paint all on their own!


I did help them remove the paper, just because they had a hard time not smudging the wet paint when they did it on their own. You can see my three-year-old making a card in the brief video below:



She added the paint first, which makes it spread out a bit less than if you add the paint while the paper is spinning. My son added the paint while this card was spinning:


My seven-year-old thinks this is a neat activity, too! She made spin art (all on her own, without my help) that she turned into a card for her teacher!

Spin art is also a great way to introduce young kids to color mixing, and with older kids you can use it as an introduction to Newton’s First Law of Motion! What’s not to love with crafting that teaches kids science and produces a beautiful work of art as the end product!

Do you have favorite crafts that kids can make and give as gifts? You can find more ideas on my For Kids to Make for Others Pinterest board!