Time to get painting

by Jacqueline Harding. Painting with your toddler is a great way for your child to explore colour – and a great way for you to have fun together.

Child finger painting with woman

Introduction

Your budding young artist loves experimenting with colour. But it can be hard for any parent or carer to hand over paints to a toddler when you know the kind of mess they are capable of generating!

With careful preparation it doesn’t have to be too stressful – and you might find yourself enjoying it more than you thought.

So, when you have the time (and patience), start by placing some old newspapers on the table and floor. If possible, choose an area of your home which doesn’t have a carpet. (If it’s warm enough and you have a garden, taking paints outdoors can be a good option.) Dress your toddler in a large old shirt or a plastic apron and have a big bowl of soapy water and paper towels at the ready (baby wipes are good too).

You’re all set. Grab some paints, pots and brushes and lots of paper - and away you go!

How CBeebies can help

If you have limited time and patience and your child is desperate to paint, look no further than the Mister Maker Magic Paintbox game on the CBeebies website.

It’s a fantastic, interactive way for your child to experiment with colours and have fun splodging paint - without the mess! The game allows your child to create a gallery of their work and also to print out their favourite pictures.

How to make a magic moment

Why don’t you and your child both paint a picture of each other? It’s a lovely way to bond with your child, and you will have that precious memory forever, along with some new decorations for the fridge!

Sing songs and rhymes as you paint. Make up the words to a well known song, perhaps ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, or just simply use words such as ‘This is the way we use our paint, use our paint, use our paint…’ to the tune of 'Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush.

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Top tips

  • Offer your child some big paint pots, large paint brushes and a palette (or plastic plates) and simply sit and talk with your toddler about how the paint looks and how it swirls and moves. Mention the names of colours as they are used. Trying out handprints with your toddler is always fun. You will have lots of fun, and one day you will be able to look back with memories of how tiny your child’s hands once were! Printing with odd bits and pieces from around the home (e.g. potato halves or old bits of sponge) can be endlessly fascinating to a toddler and inexpensive too.Join in with your child. Have fun creating a picture together. It doesn’t matter if it’s just swirls and splodges - just enjoy the moment!

Expert opinion

The courage to be bold, creative, independent and original starts at a young age. Encouraging children to experiment with colours with crayons and paints is the way to start.

Jacqueline Harding, Child Development Expert

Parent's tale

I love showing my daughter Lily how to experiment with all kinds of things. I have used air-drying clay - we pressed colourful plastic toys and made impressions in the clay, which we called 'fossils' and which we later painted. 
We have also painted with objects from nature. Half the fun is finding interesting things to use instead of a brush. Lily loved printing from some toy cars, rolling the wheels through bright colours then making tracks on the paper.
We don't spend a lot of money to make our art and it's so much fun. We talk about the colours used. I can't wait to show Lily how to mix her own green, orange and purple soon.

I love showing my daughter Lily how to experiment with all kinds of things. I have used air-drying clay - we pressed colourful plastic toys and made impressions in the clay, which we called 'fossils' and which we later painted. We have also painted with objects from nature.

Half the fun is finding interesting things to use instead of a brush. Lily loved printing from some toy cars, rolling the wheels through bright colours then making tracks on the paper.We don't spend a lot of money to make our art and it's so much fun. We talk about the colours used. I can't wait to show Lily how to mix her own green, orange and purple soon.

Rachel, from Reading

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