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Letting Your Kid Get Messy With Paint

17 Jun 2015 – 09:38 AM EDT

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The idea of letting little ones paint in the house can strike terror in the heart of parents. Painting games and painting activities can be a fun way to get through a rainy afternoon or a summer vacation.

My kids loved to paint, and with three of them little at the same time, there were some days when the painting sessions got out of hand. Paint brushes would drop on the floor and splatter the walls. Toddlers would dip a finger in the pretty paint and test to see if it was delicious to eat.

It wasn’t long, I quickly learned a couple of painting tips and tricks so that our rainy day painting sessions would be relatively stress-free.

First of all, let me tell you a fun way to let toddlers paint with their hands without worrying. You’ll need two things: a shower curtain and any recipe for homemade paint. You can do this outside on the grass and let them have free rein painting the shower curtain any way they want. You can tape the shower curtain to a garage door and let the kids loose. Make SURE your kiddo has old clothes that you don’t mind tossing as homemade paint does not wash out well. If you do this indoors, wrap the shower curtain around the edges of your table and tape it underneath. If you want to use thick paper so you can keep the painting as a keepsake, use Command tape or scrapbook tape to attach it to the shower curtain so you can safely remove it after it dries.

When it comes to paint for children, stay away from the craft paints and go for homemade or non-toxic paints instead. Here are six homemade paint recipes from Tinkerlab: Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes. Here’s one from DIY Natural: Non-Toxic Herbal Paint for Children.

Painting can keep a toddler or young child busy for a while, but when they become bored or to shake things up, play some painting games or activities with them:

Hopscotch and Painted Rocks: Gather some rocks and let each child paint them a different color. When the rocks are dry, go outside and draw a hopscotch game and let each child play using their painted rock.

Decorate the Garden: For this one, you’ll need some large garden rocks. Let your kids decorate the rocks any way they’d like– whether smearing paint all over or using paintbrushes to paint flowers, bugs, sun, moon, etc. Let the rock dry completely and spray with clear acrylic paint to preserve it. Place in the garden or along a sidewalk to display your child’s handiwork. You may have to re-apply the acrylic once a year to keep it preserved.

Tic Tac Toe: Paint makes an ordinary Tic Tac Toe game much more fun–plus, it takes longer! Use a poster-sized paper or drafting paper for this one. Draw the tic tac toe grid on paper. Take turns painting the X and O’s on the grid until you have a winner!

Picture Frames: You can find wooden picture frames at a craft store. Thick frames are easier for younger children to paint on. Experiment with different textures and patterns by splashing paint on to the frames, dotting them with paint, or sponging paint on. You can give the completed frames as gifts for teachers, relatives, or friends.

Your child may enjoy painting so much that they’ll become the next Picasso. If you end up with far too many paintings than you can save–simply take a picture of your child holding their masterpiece and put it in a scrapbook.