Paint Clean-Paint Messy: One Day, Two Very Different Painting Experiences


Painting is an all senses on deck experience for my youngest son and lately he’s been asking to do it more and more often. Sometimes I’m up for the hose ’em down when they’re done style of backyard body painting, but other (most) times I’d rather not. Research suggests that the sensory simulation of finger painting is very beneficial for the brain development of little ones. So, finding time for that kind of immersive creation is important. There’s also strong  empirical evidence that my kids have no business finger painting while I’m trying to make breakfast at 8am. There’s a time for everything.

Clean “Painting”:
Paper towel or paper
Small amount of water in a cup (to minimize spillage)
This “painting” in quotes because…well there’s no paint. I was actually shocked at how content he was with this super clean painting substitute. Thinking about adding a paint brush to my arsenal of purse items as another tool for keeping the kids occupied at restaurants. “Why yes, I would like water and a paper towel.”

Messy Painting:
Non-toxic Paint
Rolls of paper
Something on which to put mass quantities of paint. We used a baking pan.
This is Painting with a capital P because it is an all in experience. There’s no painting smock in the world that can handle the mess that ensues when I get my two boys outside for mural finger/face/body painting. After they’ve had a good time smearing with their hands I take the paper off of the wall and put it on the ground so their feet can have a turn. Then I get out the hose and towels.


Hidden Message Writing Activity


Paper, matching crayons, and watercolor paints-bam you’ve got a hidden message writing activity.

My good friend Kristin shared this idea and I had to try it out. Both boys loved it and it was simple/fun enough that my husband was able to step in and be the teacher for the activity.

-Lighter colors work best like white paper and white crayons or yellow paper and yellow crayons and use darker contrasting paint colors.
-To really focus on fine motor development try to have your kiddos only paint on the areas with crayon. Helps them prepare to write the letters themselves.
-Draw pictures and shapes for littler kiddos

Morning 37: DIY Connect the Dots



I won’t pretend that this is a unique, difficult, or ingenious idea, but it certainly is easy, versatile, and effective.

Our nursery rhyme today was tea time classic “I’m a Little Teapot”. I’ve been trying to improve Maxwell’s fine motor skills and precision when drawing and this “draw” only on the dots activity hit the mark. Little brother joined in too and I encouraged him to draw outside the teapot and for Maxwell to draw inside the teapot. This avoided a coloring turf battle and reinforced position words.

How to:

  • For easy pictures just draw it with dots and voila.
  • For more complex pictures, draw the image you want with pencil first. Then, draw the dots along the line with a marker then erase the pencil marks.
  • Add numbers to help with drawing direction and counting skills.

Eazy peezy.

Color Sorting + Scissor Skills= Geometric Art Project

We’ve been working on sorting and scissor skills this week. So, Saturday is a great day to bring the two skills together in this super simple Geometric Art project.  Check out the posts Sorting by Color and Rocking Your Kid’s World and While Baby Brother Was Napping… the scissors came out from earlier in the week

Safety scissors
3-5 colors of construction paper (child’s choice is best)
Glue (I recommend the liquid glue to sticks for the 3+ kids because the squeezing motion is great for developing their finger strength and fine motor skills, but a glue stick will get the job done if that’s all you have)
Markers the same color as the paper

Child will be able to identify colors
Child will be able to recognize color words
Child will be able to sort objects by a single attribute (color)
Child will be able to use scissors to cut paper with adult assistance

A note on objectives: these are variations on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and are likely very similar to objectives for prek in most states. The expectation is not that the child will master the objective after just one lesson, but rather that they are simply working towards mastery over time

Super simple stuff here-just let your kiddo choose 3-5 colors of construction paper, help them cut it with safety scissors, divide paper into geometric quadrants using matching colored markers, help them glue their paper pieces onto the corresponding quadrants,  and then hang it up for all to see.

1. Have two pairs of scissors – one for you and one for them. This way you can show them how to cut.
2. Hold and move the paper for them at first so they can focus on learning the open and closing motion of snipping.
3. Keep it easy and positive. This is a super challenge skill for little ones to master. So, don’t try to make any specific shapes at first,  and focus on their effort more than the accuracy of their cutting.





While Little Brother Was Napping…the scissors came out.


I’ve been meaning to work on more fine motor skills with Maxwell for awhile now, and today Patrick actually took a decent nap at home (as opposed to in the car). So, I broke out the safety scissors and glue.

Before we started I set extremely clear and explicit expectations about how scissors are used.
-only used with an adult
-only cut paper (we repeated this at least a dozen times,  but he still acted like he was going to cut his lip)
-only use one hand

Sold the activity as for “big boys who follow directions”. He was as proud of “being very careful” as of his actual artwork.


When I used to teach preschool scissor work was one activity that could bring kids to tears with frustration and self-doubt. To avoid this I try to emphasize the importance of persistence “wow, you’re trying so hard! It can be tricky, but I can tell you’re going to be able to do it because you’re doing (identify specific thing they’re doing well).

Also, I’m going to do only free form self guided projects until his proficiency is developed. This way I hope to avoid his concerns that he’s “doing it wrong”. Then I’ll draw simple lines and shapes for him cut along.

Since Maxwell is usually of the mindset that more is more I was actually very surprised at how careful he was with the glue.

Scissors and glue have to be supervised pretty closely. So, this’ll be a Patrick nap time activity for awhile to come


Morning/Evening 10: Better A.M., Perfectly Messy P.M.


I’m happy to say that after yesterday morning’s fiasco today’s AM homeschool time was a pleasant return to normal. So normal, that instead of sharing about the first 45 minutes of our structured play today I’m going to share about our 30 minute art activity at the end of the day-and yes, I know that 45+30= more than an hour of homeschool, but 60 minutes is my base daily goal.
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