Some activities are just too much fun to do only once. Fingerpainting has proven to be the most consistently popular activity with the Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group, so we bring it back every few months. The amount of fun to be had by attendees is only equaled by the ease of organizing and setting up the activity, so it’s a win-win for all those involved.
Additionally, fingerpainting is a really easy activity to expand upon. If you’re looking to slowly transition your young children from fingerpainting to more complicated styles of paint application, there are many informal ways to include other art tools into the mix.
The following are a few tips to shaking up the normal fingerpainting routine:
The first tip is the most obvious: Let your kids use more of their body than just fingers. Hands, yes, but also wrists, forearms, feet, etc. Larger work spaces better allow for this, so use a big piece of paper and position it so that it allows for optimal reach for your children.
Also, if the kids can move around the table, try adding movement to the painting process. The little girl pictured above kept walking around the table with her hands on the paper, spreading the paint around with each rotation. The result was a great pattern of fingertips all throughout the work.
Another tip – limit your colors! It always seems like the more colors the better for the project, but in most cases, a limited amount forces the kids to use what they have and really concentrate on the effects of blending only two or three different paints. Fewer options are also less overwhelming, so keep the paint to a minimum when working with very young children or kids who don’t have much previous painting experience.
The additional tools you use don’t have to be sophisticated. Instead of brushes, use Q-tips, cotton balls, popsicle sticks, and string. Have them use the tools after using their hands, so that the kids can get an idea of the effects of each different tool on the paint. Additionally, fine-pointed tools (like Q-tips) can be great for letter-writing exercises in the paint, so don’t be afraid to mix a little literacy education into the arts and crafts time.
Don’t forget about texture! Tactile input is so important for young children, thus fingerpainting is an exceptional exercise for both sense and cognition building. The texture lessons come into play the first time the kids touch the paint, then when the paint is applied to the work surface, and from there it’s up to you help vary the experience. For a different texture to the paint itself adding a little sand or salt. Texture can be added to the paint project via various easy tools, including plastic forks, tooth picks, and the above mentioned tools.
Get creative – a crumpled piece of paper or the bottom of an old shoe are equally great for adding texture to a painting. Best of all, your kids will learn that the best tools are not necessarily the ones found in a store.
Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.