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Painting With Kids

Tips for painting with kids from mamasmiles.com

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 mamasmiles.com

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 mamasmiles.com

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 mamasmiles.com

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 mamasmiles.com

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 - mamasmiles.com

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!

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

15 thoughts on “Painting With Kids”

  1. Thank you MaryAnne – this is such a great post and I loved looking at all the paintings – just beautiful!

  2. I think you’re right- even my boys who normally don’t get as excited about crafts, LOVE painting! Tell your daughter that we loved her paintings:).

  3. When I was teaching preschool years ago we used to clear a table and allow 2-3 kids at a time paint right on top of the table. Since it’s more of a sensory activity they never really cared about any pictures they would make with the fingerprints. During the summer in our art camp we take a table outside and just let the kids paint with shaving cream. (Wearing bathing suits)

  4. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    These are beautiful paintings! Strangely, my daughter doesn’t enjoy painting much – perhaps because of set up and clean up involved in the painting. For several days now I am offering her paints and even offer to paint with her, but she is not at all interested. She is only interested in painting on clay or working with clay, but not on paper.

  5. Checked out your post after seeing your message on Mia’s blog. My daughter is an adult now, but I didn’t know you could do so much with finger paints. I enjoyed looking at the various level of sophistication in your children’s artwork. Great post.

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