This past year, kids have been home a lot more than we are used to, and it isn’t always easy to keep them engaged. Sometimes those same old DIY activities can feel kind of stale. Luckily, you can find unique canvases, painting tools, and new painting ideas all around. It’s safe — and encouraged — to think outside the box.
If you’re drawing a blank on easy things to paint with your kiddos, don’t worry; we put the extra time on our hands to good use to compile a handy list for you. These seven unique painting ideas for beginners make a perfect pastime for kids.
Bubble Wrap Painting
Sometimes the best painting ideas come from repurposing materials around you. The next time you get a bubble-wrapped package, re-use it for art.
Try bubble wrap as a canvas.
Kids love drawing on things other than paper… as evident by the crayon marks on the walls. When you paint on bubble wrap, it creates a stained-glass effect. Cut the bubble wrap to a manageable size, use a paintbrush, roller brush, sponge, or even fingers, and go crazy! We recommend starting with tempera or poster paint, but it doesn’t matter much. Try all kinds to see how they look! Watercolor might fill the space between the bubbles, while thick acrylic coats everything with little opacity. Hang the finished pieces on a window where they will get some sun.
Use bubble wrap as a paintbrush.
Bubble wrap can create an almost leaf-like texture when dabbed on paper. Start with a cardboard toilet paper or a paper towel roll. You can either cover one side with bubble wrap and secure it with a rubber band or stuff the bubble wrap into the roll with just enough hanging out to use for painting.
Painting With Nature
Some of the best painting ideas involve the great outdoors.
Painting rocks can be fun for all ages. Start with a smooth, flat rock. If you can’t find them in nature, a craft store will have them, too. Wash your rocks with dish soap. Once dry, seal the rock using a clear brush or spray sealer (rocks can be porous). You can also skip that step and prime it with white. Then paint! Outdoor and multi-surface paints will hold up best against the elements. You can also use permanent markers to add small details. Once the paint is fully dry, seal your rocks with something like Mod Podge Outdoor. Place the rocks around your yard, walkway, or porch. You can also use painted rocks for random acts of kindness. You can paint positive messages or symbols and plant them in places where someone else will find them.
Make leaf prints.
This activity is one of those easy painting ideas that also gives you a reason to go outside. Go on a nature walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park to collect leaves. Both dry and fresh leaves work. Prepare different acrylic paint colors. Add enough water to them to make them spreadable but not runny. Paint the entire surface of one leaf. Carefully flip it, and press it firmly face-down on the paper for three seconds. Remove the leaf to reveal the print. Add an educational element by creating a leaf book and labeling the type of plant, tree, or flower leaves you printed.
You can use food as an edible canvas or a useful tool to create unique shapes and designs.
No list of kid-friendly painting ideas would be complete without COOKIES! Have you ever decorated cookies for a holiday only to be telling the kids to stop licking sprinkles and icing off their fingers every five seconds? Suddenly, those cookies don’t seem clean enough to hand out to others. There’s an alternative! First, prep the paints using egg yolks and food coloring (that’s it!), and set them aside. Then roll out your favorite sugar cookies recipe. Cut shapes or keep them simple circles. Now for the fun part: painting. Make sure your paintbrushes are clean and dry and use separate brushes for each color. When finished, bake and enjoy.
Creat fruit and vegetable stamps.
Use fruits and vegetables to make prints on paper or fabric. Tempera or poster paint works best on paper. Dip the food into the paint. Make sure to coat the bottom evenly. Lift and gently shake off any excess paint. Press the painted side firmly into paper and lift. Use apple halves to make pumpkin-shaped stamps for fall holidays. Cut shapes like stars, circles, and hearts into potato halves. The possibilities are pretty limitless.
Give paper plate art a whirl.
OK, OK… so this isn’t exactly food, but it is food adjacent. And don’t worry — you don’t need a fancy spin painter to make this project a success. You probably have a salad spinner, yeah? If you don’t, you can score one at Ikea for, like, less than a dollar. What you’ll do is place a paper plate inside of the salad spinner, followed by dropping globs of acrylic paint on it in various colors. Then simply close the lid and give that sucker a good spin! When you open it back up, you’ll have a beautiful abstract piece of art work staring back at you.
How often do children get paint (among other things) on their clothes without even trying? Well, T-shirt art is the chance for them to do it on purpose and in style. Put plain white T-shirts on the kids and let them use machine washable paint. The kids can form a conga line and finger paint and draw each other’s shirts. They can even add some color to their own clothes. And even if it gets on their skin, it’ll wash right off.
There’s a special paint that dries like a chalkboard, which allows kids to use chalk inside too. This paint gives children the chance to enjoy chalk indoors and create a canvas in whatever shape or size they choose. When they’re allowed to be creative with their canvas, it adds an extra oomph of creativity to the child’s artistic method. With this kind of medium, you won’t have to worry about paper restricting their imagination.
Help your child decorate their umbrella so their rainy days are a little bit brighter. Umbrellas get wet, but with waterproof paint, your child can make the umbrella of their dreams. First, buy a light-colored umbrella so the colors they use pop. Sketch their designs on paper first, or freestyle and paint directly on the umbrella. Make sure it’s open while they paint and until their art is completely dry. This will keep their work from cracking or smudging.
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