Anything, Family

Painting Ideas For Kids

You can start to paint with your kids even before they have the dexterity to hold a brush. Finger painting is a wonderful way to introduce your child to the world of painting for kids both young and old. We want to help you get started with some ideas for you and your kids no matter how old or young they are.

More Than Just Pictures

It can be easy to overlook that painting is doing more for your child than passing the time with a fun activity. Research suggests painting is an important part of a child’s development.  

Having time to create is valuable and can impact and improve our well-being. Studies may have shown that painting is a way for children to discover new ideas, express their emotions, learn using different senses, explore color, and create pleasing projects to share with others. 

A Silly Rule

The most important thing for your family is staying safe. This also applies when you are painting. A fun way to protect your family is with this silly rule. This rule makes all kids and teenagers smile. 

Don’t Eat The Art Supplies

What makes this silly is that most kids already know not to eat the art supplies. What can easily get overlooked is forgetting to wash your hands. It’s so easy to get absorbed in what you are doing while you are being creative. You step away for a moment, get distracted, and then want to grab a snack or drink before you get back to painting. 

Painting Ideas

Bath Time Painting

A spill-free, less messy idea is to use bath paint. Your kids can get creative using an extra-large brush or their fingers to paint while in the tub. You can easily make this a playdate by adding swimsuits and fun music for a small painting party in the tub. Start with drawing rubber ducks and let imaginations soar.

Distance Painting 

Being creative with your kids does not need to be limited to when they are with you. You can plan to have supplies in both of your locations and simply video-chat while working on a project together. With the Caribu app, you can draw directly on your tablet while you video-chat with your child. You can also read them a story from the app while they work on their own art project. 

Not every parent or grandparent feels like (or is able to) setting up a big art project with tons of supplies. That’s why you turn to Caribu to help. We make it simple and fun without any mess or stress.  

Art is a great way for kids to express their emotions and things that are impacting their lives both good and bad. Even small changes that happen because of the pandemic impacts everyone.

Water Soluble Crayons  

You can start a picture by drawing all the details you want using water-soluble crayons. A great way to keep kids busy when wet paint is not a great idea is to get them started coloring without any water present.

Once the picture is done being drawn, you start painting with water over where you have colored the picture, and the marks start bleeding together as the dry paint from the crayon turns into wet paint. 

You can avoid more expensive water-soluble crayons. Generally, the more you spend on the paint you are using the higher the quality of the pigment in the paint. This does allow for better color mixing, however, expensive materials are generally used in professional art studios. They are wonderful to have but not necessary.

There are also a lot of successful, professional artists that use art supplies marketed for kids. This not only includes water-soluble crayons but the regular children’s crayons you find in most homes.

Watercolor Pencils

Another wet-dry paint is watercolor pencils. Older children, as well as adults, love to grab a sketchbook, these special pencils, a brush, a water bottle, and head outside. No matter if you are sitting on your front porch, headed to the beach, or planning on walking to the park this is a great option for spending time with your kids.

Just remember to mark the water bottle you are planning to use for painting. Make it something that catches your eye so that it’s easy to follow the silly safety rule we mentioned earlier.

Pan Paints

Watercolor and tempera are types of paint that are easy for children to work with. These types of paint also clean up with water and are available in trays of dry paint. 

You can also get empty trays and purchase different colors to go into the trays. These types of supplies are often referred to as pan paints and are a great choice for teachers with a large class of kids or anywhere where there is going to be a large amount of painting.

Liquid Paints

Tempera, watercolor, and acrylic paint are all available as liquid paint. They can be cleaned up and diluted with water. All three paints can have strange results if you are color mixing. Watercolor is often utilized because the more water you add the more transparent the paint. 

Acrylic is the least transparent of the three but might be a better choice for older children. Tempera has the lowest quality of pigments and is often used with young children. Pictures that are painted with tempera can dry chalky and the paint can fall off the paper slightly.

Subject Matter

Starting with a simple object, like an apple, allows your child to get used to the new techniques and supplies. They are learning as they go and absorbing lots of different information. 

It is always beneficial to look at something as a reference. You don’t need to have an image or a sample for them to look at, it just allows for a greater exploration of the details that can be included in your child’s picture. You can look at several examples before you get started and then just start or you can have something that is available to look at while you are painting.

If they are creating very fast you can suggest they add something to their picture. For example, asking them if a tree would be something they would like to add next. You might want to consider an idea from the following list.

  • Someplace the child has been like the beach or the park
  • Favorite characters, toys, something in the room they can look at
  • A new landscape, a desert, space, or mountain view
  • Bugs, bears, or bats
  • You can repeat an idea you have already done so they’re creating a series

Project Ideas

Ocean Landscape: You start by painting water and fish. Try using a light or more transparent color for the water.  If it is hard for your child to navigate liquid paint without creating a brown mess you can start by drawing with dry paint for this first step.

If you want to use only wet paint and ensure the water and fish don’t mix. You can also do this project in three steps. Just allow the water to dry before you add fish. Any wet paint from the underpainting should be completely dry before you start the next step. 

Once your picture is dry you want to use wet paint for this last step. Using a darker color than the water, like dark green, paint seaweed and blow the wet paint on the paper using a straw. This moves the paint causing an interesting effect.

Inkblot: Start by folding a new piece of paper in half. Paint only on one side with wet paint. While the paint is still wet, refold the paper to create an interesting project. 

Mystery Painting: Sprinkling table salt onto several pages each with a different color of wet watercolor on it. Wait for the paint to fully dry and brush off the salt. The salt interacts with the paint and creates wonderful patterns. You can then cut or tear the different pages and glue them on a new piece of paper to create a collage. 

Beyond Brushes

It’s not just fingers and brushes that can be used to paint with. Sponges create interesting textures. Bubble wrap or plastic wrap can create interesting effects. You can try using something like half of a potato or an upside-down empty water bottle to stamp the paint on the paper. Small pieces of cardboard can also be used to scrape the paint away.

You can also push things into wet paint and lift them off. Yarn, leaves, or plastic forks make great choices to try.

Novel Ideas

  • Try exciting supplies that are unusual like using puffy paint that has texture when dried.
  • Use different techniques like the trendy pour and paint. The result is an abstract picture project and is a great way to introduce your child to a new style of art. 
  • Painting with ink is a great idea to use with older kids. Black India ink that is diluted with water makes a pretty gray. You can use different papers to see different textures and compare how the paint is absorbed.

Beyond Painting

We are all learning to adapt to new situations as our normal schedules can be changed at the last minute due to social distancing. Coming up with new creative activities can be a challenge.

We are here to make sure you always feel prepared by continually coming up with ideas for you and your family no matter the physical distance. Painting is just one of the many ideas of what you can do with your kids anywhere. This includes painting during a video-call using your phone or tablet.

Starting a painting at a moment’s notice when you have no supplies is challenging. A great choice for creative activities is quickly downloading an app, such as Caribu, where you can paint together as well as find a wealth of games, activities, and books with your child’s favorite characters ready for you to enjoy. 

Ready, Set, Go

Painting with your kids should be an easy, relaxing time for enjoyment. You are more than ready to gather supplies and start a creative journey with your children. Young kids love to paint fast and create lots of pictures so be sure to have plenty of paper on hand.


The Art of Creating: Why Art Is Important for Early Childhood Development | MSU 

How Art is Helping Children (and Adults) Cope with the Pandemic | PBS

Painting With Young Children: There’s More to the Picture | Penn State