So I am very, very mess adverse. Yet I love art, and so does Anderson. It is a huge conundrum over here. Thankfully, several years in the classroom have taught me a few tricks to get creative, while keeping the clean up to a minimum.
First, picking the right supplies matters. Our painting arsenal holds:
- A full body smock like this Bumkins Long Sleeve Smock
- A splash mat (that we use under our high chair during meals too) like the one from Gathre
- Kid-friendly brushes like the Crayola My First Jumbo Toddler Paint Brrushes
- Washable, non-toxic paint like the Crayola Washable Kids Paint
- Painter’s Tape
- Cardstock (it’s much sturdier than looseleaf so it can withstand the amount of paint your toddler will throw at it)
- a plastic tray or lid from your recycle that can be used as a paint palette
Next, pick your location strategically. Containing your kid to their highchair, and painter’s taping the paper to the table will help keep the mess contained to mostly wipeable surfaces. Taping the paper down ensures the art doesn’t get torn or tossed.
Taking the art outdoors is always a great way to not stress the mess. Simply hose everything off when you’re done.
One activity we love is to strip down and paint in the bathtub. I use painters tape to tape the cardstock to the bathroom wall. This takes the art vertical too, just like they’re painting on a real easel. I place the tray of paint and brushes on the floor of the tub and let Anderson explore the colours. It doesn’t matter if he gets it on himself, the tub, or the walls. I simply remove the art from the wall, and flip on the shower to wash him and the mess away.
If you have a kid who is still in the “puts everything in their mouth” stage, then you may need to get creative with how you paint. Placing cardstock (or a small canvas) in a large ziplock bag is a great way to get your kids painting. Place drops of paint all over the paper before sealing (and I often tape the bag closed too) the bag up. Tape to the table in front of your babe and let them finger paint away. Be careful as you pull it out or it will rip. I pull from the bottom up, which seems to work most effectively.
Some other activities you could try is painting with interesting objects! Skip the paint brushes and opt for some other painting utensils that are toddler sized. We loved painting with small, clear water cups. We dipped them in paint and stamped them onto the page.
You could also use the leafy end on a broccolini or celery to create a masterpiece. How about grabbing some kitchen utensils like your pot scrubbing brush or your basting brush? Or a kitchen sponge cut into different shapes makes for a fun sponge painting activity.
I often let the art dry and then cut them into shapes, like a heart or simple rectangle, to glue to cardstock to make cards for loved ones. Anderson has fun, and I save $5 on a store-bought card. Win-Win.