The kids have occasionally painted at one of the drop-in centres we go to, but until a few weeks ago, we had not attempted it at the daycare. They were just so young. Now, with Noah at 22 months, I figured I should introduce painting at the home daycare.
Here are a few tips for running a relatively stress-free painting activity.
- You don't have to buy paint smocks. You can use old shirts you were planning on getting rid of anyway.
If it's summertime, you can always have the kids in their diapers only, with the paint shirt on. This way, there is absolutely no risk of ruining clothing.
Buy washable paints. Crayola makes some good ones. Or, you can make your own paints (see "painting" label for finger paint recipe).
Expect that they may try to eat it. (Some like to use pudding to introduce finger painting to toddlers, since they can go ahead and taste it. Personally, I don't want to try this. I think it may confuse them. They may be more insistent on tasting when trying real paints!) Just make sure you are at least using a non-toxic paint, and monitoring the activity very closely.
Use small amounts of paint, and refill when necessary. When painting with brushes, I give the kids each a little paint in a throw-away bowl. This makes clean-up that much easier. (However, the greener alternative I would like to switch to is using small tupperware containers from the dollar store. Clean-up of the paint would then entail putting the lids on the containers and rinsing them off, until next time.)
Some people like to use newspaper or a drop-sheet (if painting at the table). Then you can simply throw the newsprint into recycling and not have to worry about cleaning the table off afterwards. This is a great idea for older children. However, due to the young age (developmental level) of the kids in my care, playing with the newsprint or drop-sheet would be an interesting activity in itself, and would actually double the clean-up for me!
Keep a few facecloths at the table for when you need to clean the kids up. When they decide they are finished, they mean NOW! (And sometimes they all decide that they are done at the same time!)
Have a sheet of paper out for yourself, and model what you can do with the paint (e.g. dots, lines). Show that you are having fun! Finger paint seems especially daunting to the very young. Some children can be wary of putting their hand in goop. Keep attempting the activity weekly or bi-weekly, encouraging them by modelling your enjoyment in the activity.
Keep the child's painting so that they can see the finished result. Later, you can talk about their painting, and show your appreciation of art by posting it on the fridge, or having them show it to other members of the family.
Noah would barely touch the finger paint. As you can see by his painting, I tried to get him into it. Aidas loved it!