Finger painting is the ultimate kid activity. It’s messy, colorful and gives them the chance to really express themselves. Of course, finger paint is often the ultimate mom nightmare. It’s messy, a pain to clean up and more times than not your kids end up “expressing themselves” somewhere other than the paper you gave them. “But it’s soooooo fuuuuuun, Mama!” Cue groan of dread. We can’t stop your kids from smearing their hands on their bellies, your boobs, or the wall. We can, however, offer some ideas so that if they must finger paint, you come away with some actual cute art instead of just an entire ream of smudged paper.
1. Practice Writing Names
This might seem like a no-brainer when you’re removed from the situation. However, if you’ve been talked into finger paints on the spot, you’re already overwhelmed and probably having a hard time giving direction beyond telling your kids to keep their fingers on the paper. But a great way to turn finger painting into a learning activity is to help them scrawl their names.
2. Work Within Your Color Scheme
Some people are really into abstract art. Why not let your kiddos create a masterpiece for their playroom by giving them coordinating colors to work with?
3. Practice the Art of Blending
Instead of letting your kiddos go haywire on some paper or canvas so that all those fun, bright colors mix into a gross shade of brown, show them how you can mix the primary colors together to create secondary colors.
4. Draw in Fingerprints
Instead of watching them smear aimlessly, encourage your kiddos to use their fingertips. They can dot out a message (or their name, again) or dot out a whole picture. Hey! Dot Art was famous once… maybe they can make it famous again.
5. Teach the Beauty of Nature
After you’ve taught them how to blend colors and use fingerprints instead of smears, expand a little farther, show them how to take it to the next level. This might be more for your older kids while your littles still smear, but it can still be a lot of fun and a great way to make some truly lovely art.
6. Use Stencils
Another option for guaranteed pretty fingerpaint art is to use a stencil. If you’re a crafty mama, you might already have some. If not, look up simple shapes only and help by trimming them out of thicker cardstock. Next, use small pieces of painters’ tape to affix the stencil onto their paper. Once they’ve smeared paint everywhere, pull up the stencil to reveal their final fun shape.
7. Make Art Together
Instead of turning them loose with their own ideas, put those tiny, messy fingers to good use. Draw the wire for a strand of lights or the body of a peacock, then let their little fingers add the lightbulbs or the feathers.
8. Create Some Decor
How many ways can you reuse a simple handprint in order to turn it into seasonal decor? From Thanksgiving turkeys to Christmas wreaths, the possibilities are endless… and useful.
9. Think Outside the Box
Paints don’t have to go on just paper or canvas. How about letting them work their magic on some ornaments or pottery for Christmas gifts?
10. Make It Edible
Another fun option is to skip the actual paints altogether and use something edible. Some dyed vanilla pudding, yogurt, or icing can make for great “lickable” paints. Whether they “paint” cookies, some fondant paper, or themselves is all up to you — and those sweeties.