Oh, how I adore painting. It can be messy, (think tempera paints) or relatively clean (I got you with watercolors). And honestly, sometimes I want to think beyond painting on a large piece of kraft paper. So if you are looking for painting activities for any time of the year, you’ve come to the right play. Over the last nine years as a parent (how did that happen so quickly?!), we have painted everything from pine cones to plastic skeleton bones. – Stick with me; I have something for every type of painter. Here are the BEST 40 Easy Painting Ideas for Kids. And yep, it is organized by theme so you won’t get lost scrolling.
First time painting? Try this genius idea to paint with your toddler. Start with this idea to keep the mess contained.
Painting supplies for kids
What is painting without the best supplies? Over the years, I have tried many paint brands and seen paintbrushes where the bristles break. (the worst) Here are my favorite art supplies for kids, and I will highlight my top five painting supplies for kids here.
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Supplies without images
- This is the Builder’s paper from Home Depot.
- This is the cycling mat my kids lean on as they paint from Amazon.
- This is a muffin tin to keep the paints.
The BEST Watercolor Paints
I am to be blunt. These are the BEST watercolor paints and you need them. They sell out quickly, but when they are available, grab them. We have used the same pallet for three years!
Tempera Paints in a Tray
What makes these great is that they are faster to dry than liquid paint. These paints are for those of you who want to paint but do not want to overthink where to squeeze it.
Toddlers and preschoolers benefit from a chubby handle on a paintbrush. I like how there are two different brush styles for children to explore.
Starter Tempera Paint Set
If you want to paint but are unsure you will enjoy it, start with this 6-pack of washable paints for kids. You can always upgrade to the liter bottles after that.
These Kwik Stix are where the paint meets crayons. They are bright, vibrant colors and great for chubby hands to hold—another option for someone who wants to get creative without the liquid paint everywhere.
Perhaps the closest you want to get to painting activities is using painter’s tape. Don’t worry; we have that too. Here are 25 painter’s tape activities for kids.
10 Easy Painting Ideas for Kids
Easy painting activities for kids are the first painting category to find a fun idea. Here you will find low-prep creative ways for your child to develop fine motor skills, express feelings, and be themselves. We call this process art because each child can create how they see fit.
PRO TIP: If you are NEW to painting, I wrote you this step-by-step guide on how to paint with kids. Read this first.
Paint Elmer the Elephant
The children’s book, Elmer the Elephant, sets a great example of how children can be themselves. This process art activity encourages many different colors and patterns.
Paint by Dots
Here we have the classic, paint-by-number. My preschooler wanted to paint Mr. Incredible, but honestly, anything goes. Don’t spend too much time on your sketch, and invite your child to begin painting. If they don’t follow the paint-by-dot code, that’s okay too!
Paint the Rocks
What is childhood without some rock painting? This activity works as a two-for-one because children search for rocks (hello, gross motor) and then paint.
Cardboard Giant Doughnuts
How many times can I hit the like button? Next time you have a large box, this is your activity.
Tape Resist Rainbow Art
Have you tried tape-resist art? It is one of the easiest ways to paint and leaves everyone saying, WOW!
The Watermelon Seed
I adore this summer book; the activity is great for toddlers and preschoolers who love watermelon.
I have learned from Lizzie at the Workspace for Children that leaving out a giant canvas is like a moth to a flame—simple to set up and endless creativity.
Giant Coffee Filter Paintings
The Art Bar is another go-to for all the process art ideas. They are simple, engaging, and typically use items I already have around the house.
Puffy Paint Leaf Paintings
This idea has me at puffy paint. What a fun way to zone out and get creative. I hear after school activity with this unique idea!
Paper Roll Color Maze
Have you ever painted something you can then play with? This color maze is what you are looking for. Color the different ends of paper tubes, then collect alike colors to make a giant color maze.
5 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Kids
I looooooove using our watercolor paints. The Arteza watercolors for kids are bright, washable, and last. Here are 5 watercolor painting ideas to open them up and dive in.
Watercolor Painting for Kids
Here, there are no rules. Grab a piece of heavy white construction paper and create what’s on your mind. Head to this post to see how my toddler joined in as well!
Wow. This idea is one of my all-time favorites. Painting coral is beautiful and low mess with our favorite watercolor paints for kids.
Watercolor Shape Painting
My kindergartener was home sick and wanted to do some painting. I asked his teacher what they were working on, and we got to work.
Magic Crayon Resist Paintings
If you have a white crayon, save this idea! Decorate a few items on white paper that your child enjoys. As they paint over it, a design appears! Who doesn’t love a little surprise?
Do your kids forget to put the caps back on the markers? Yeh, mine too. We can bring those old markers back to life and make our DIY watercolors.
10 Ideas to paint without paintbrushes
How do you paint without paintbrushes? Children can use their fingers, squirt bottles, and squeegees! I know, right? Super clever and creative. Here are 10 ways to paint without using paintbrushes. These are some of my favorite ways to paint.
Squirt the Paint
Like mustard and ketchup, this squirt the paint activity explores mixing primary colors red and yellow.
Brilliant idea from my friend Agnes at Hello, Wonderful. Grab the squeegee and explore color mixing.
Rainbow Blow Painting
Painting with a straw? Yep. Here is a painting STEM challenge for children home and looking for something to do.
I told you this list was clever. Have some potatoes that went bad? They make excellent paintbrushes. Another win from Toddler Approved.
Just when you thought we didn’t have any more ideas, I bring you a pendulum painting. Agnes is brilliant and the mastermind behind this idea.
Bubble Wrap Art
Order something that comes with bubble wrap? Let’s pull it out of the recycle bin and paint it.
Painting with Nature
If your child likes to collect nature, this painting is for you. Gather some items, and explore painting with different textures.
Simple Sponge Painting
Do you remember painting with sponges in your childhood? I can see why this was a hit in kindergarten.
Toilet Paper Roll Flower Stamps
Those empty toilet paper rolls add up quickly! Use them for a simple painting idea for toddlers and preschoolers.
Squirt the Ice
Painting the ice with squirt bottles was on repeat for many, many years when the boys were toddlers and preschoolers. Check out this creative way to mix primary colors.
10 painting ideas for holidays, seasons, and celebrations
Holidays, seasons, and celebrations scream, paint me something! I put together this list of fun painting ideas for you to have something to do to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Save this list to come back to when the seasons change.
Cardboard Christmas Tree
This is one of my favorite memories. Gather boxes and give this cardboard box tree a try.
Halloween Skeleton Painting
Don’t let the bones scare you! They are a plastic set I grabbed from Home Depot. This was a fun afternoon activity to paint and wonder about the human body.
Easy Easter Art
Use cardboard to make Easter eggs and invite your child to dive in.
Fall Leaf Painting
Fall leaves are fairly simple to sketch. Here is a nice way to welcome fall.
Pumpkin Sponge Painting
Let’s use sponges again to make these sweet pumpkins.
I adore the way the greens blend for this simple toddler activity.
Smash painting makes a great group art activity for celebrations and birthday parties.
Paint the Snowmen
Use the watercolor paints again to welcome winter!
Room on the Broom
Color by the number on this giant Room on the Broom painting activity. My preschooler loves this book, and it is a fun activity to revisit the characters, plot, and setting.
Giant Paper Snowflakes
Use the tempera sticks to paint giant winter snowflakes. Hang them up for a winter wonderland.
Craving a calmer morning?
Breakfast Invitations are simple learning games to begin the day with play.
Give your kid a range of paintbrushes and objects they can press into the paint, primary colors, a place to mix paint, and a large sheet of paper. Sit down with your child and explore different ways of painting together.
You can begin painting with kids at any age! But typically, from 15 months old is best. You can introduce paint to infants by dipping their fingertips and hands into paint and pressing it onto different textures. Add paint to a plastic bag and watch your child mix the colors through movement. Over the age of one is when children will start to be able to hold and manipulate objects to paint.
Rather than trying to teach them to paint, teach them to explore. Place an old sheet under a tray, then add some paint. Give your toddler some paintbrushes and let them experiment with mixing and using the paint. Here is everything you need to know about painting with toddlers.