Let’s talk about an activity that is always a hit with kids of all ages, and doesn’t need grand preparations, planning ahead of time, or excessive equipment. An activity that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and is sure to get you the ‘cool parent’ tag.
Welcome to finger painting 101!
Finger painting is such a simple activity, but the kind of sensory exposure and learning it provides a child is tremendous! Additionally, the easy access to many materials at home or in art stores that you can use to set up this activity makes it one of the most brilliant and underrated activities. The benefits of finger painting are many and well established. So, let’s discover this colorful way for you and your kids to get your hands dirty!
As a parent, if you’re to imagine finger painting, you’re probably seeing a mighty mess: horrific images of paint splatters on your floors or walls, and stubborn paint that won’t come off even after hours of scrubbing. Wait, stop, and breathe! A well-planned finger painting activity can actually be a fuss-free, independent play scenario for your child while you put your feet up and sip your reheated coffee, believe me.
Finger painting activities are so versatile. Set it up for your 5-month-old baby or look up finger painting ideas for your toddlers. Research finger painting for preschoolers or fun finger painting activities for kids in primary school. You can even try finger painting as an adult and participate in the kids’ fun. Additionally, the variety of paints and equipment you can use allows it to be a messy or mess-free option. You can plan finger painting activities either indoors or outdoors.
Finger painting can be as wild and versatile as your imagination! You can use store-bought paint like watercolors, oil paints, and edible finger paint. Or make various kinds of DIY finger paint like homemade finger paint, chalk paint, yogurt paint, or ice paint. You can use an easel, paper, floor, bathtub, or glass as the surface, depending on how permanent you want the art to be. You can look up finger painting ideas on Pinterest boards, let your little artists create contemporary art, or set up finger painting activities with planned outcomes. The approach to finger painting can be many, but the outcome is always one: oodles of fun!
Benefits of finger painting
There are many benefits of finger painting, apart from all the fun it brings to playtime. For an adult, finger painting might seem easy, but for a child, it is an activity that involves complex moves. It is a multi-sensory activity that can help develop gross motor and fine motor skills depending on the setup. It enriches the natural creativity in children, satiates their curiosity, and teaches them patience and engagement.
Here are the many benefits your child can reap from simple finger painting activities:
Sensory play is a vital part of childhood. It’s the first form of learning a child encounters. Sensory play helps in developing multiple skills at the same time. Finger painting engages all the five senses at once. Any form of play that packs such a punch has my vote!
Fine motor skills development
Splashing with the paint, painting with fingers, pinching, line drawing–all these easy finger painting ideas help strengthen tiny fingers and hand muscles. This leads to fine motor skills development that is needed for coordinating movements. In fact, research suggests finger painting can also be used therapeutically to increase fine motor skills for children diagnosed with autism.
Gross motor skills development
Gross motor skills can be easily targeted by setting up finger painting activities that require squatting, sitting, tall kneeling, or even tip-toeing by the child. From setting the child on a paper-lined floor for painting to letting them actively paint the driveway, the opportunity for building the big muscles group of our little ones are many.
Finger painting is an excellent activity for developing hand-eye coordination. Hand-eye coordination is essential for spatial activities like throwing a ball and catching objects, and for reading and writing skills in later life. Imagine the significance of activities that lead to such developments!
Cognitive skills are core skills. They help us think, learn, memorize, reason, and engage. With finger painting, a child is exploring a new environment, problem-solving, critically thinking, and analyzing the results. This helps create a super play and learning environment for the young.
Social and personal skills
Finger painting is a therapeutic and calming activity that provides a medium for the child to express themselves. It teaches patience and engagement and leads to personality development in a child. Additionally, if the child explores finger painting ideas as a group activity, it can help them connect with others, develop confidence and help the child improve their social and communication skills.
Sparks creativity and curiosity
Children are innately creative and naturally curious. So finger painting in early childhood is an activity that allows their creativity to grow and imagine what the freedom of playing with colors will do for their curiosity! But the benefits don’t stop there. Growing up, children crave independence. This often leads to conflict between them and adults. Finger painting for preschoolers and toddlers is one form of play that can make them feel powerful and lead to a lot of learning.
The benefits of finger painting are not only limited to children but also great for adults. It provides them with an artistic medium of self-expression and is also an excellent stress- reliever. Plus, who needs an excuse to get messy and have fun, right?
Picking the right finger paint
A parent’s main concern when choosing finger painting as an activity is their child’s safety, especially when the activity calls for store-bought paint. Considering the child will get the paint on themselves, which they might explore by licking or sniffing the colorful concoctions, it is natural for parents to be on the lookout for edible finger paints that are natural and won’t harm their little ones in any way.
There’s a wide variety of readymade finger paints available in the market. Several kits in the market for finger painting take all the guesswork out of the equation. Most declare that their products are non-toxic, organic, vegan, and/or natural. So you can invest in paints from a trusted company or source for quick finger painting activities.
But considering finger painting is an activity that allows kids to indulge in messy play and engage with the products extremely closely, it is perfectly understandable for parents to be concerned and look out for kitchen-friendly options to create DIY finger paint at home instead. Here are a few suggestions for homemade finger paint you can batch-make and that can be whipped up in a few minutes! But that’s not all, we’ve also got a bunch of finger-painting activity ideas listed below!
Homemade finger paint
This paint is perfect because it comes together in ten minutes from the ingredients in the pantry and can be batch-made and stored. It is also perfect for finger painting because of its consistency.
- 1 cup corn flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 cup cold water
- 3 cups boiling water
- Food coloring of choice
Mix corn flour, salt and cold water in a saucepan. Add boiling water and whisk until it’s all mixed well. Stir the mixture on a medium flame until it comes together as a smooth paste.
Let the mixture cool, divide it into smaller jars, and stir in the food colorings of your choice.
Once it’s cooled down, you can use it immediately for finger painting play. Or you can keep it in the fridge for later use. It stays fresh for a fortnight.
How to play
Tape newspaper on the floor. Give your kids white sheets and let them paint the world with their fingers.
Set blobs of paints on a large tray and let your little ones unleash the modern artists inside them! Once they’ve merged up a rainbow to their heart’s content, place a white sheet on the tray to take an imprint of their masterpiece.
Set a tray with whipped cream, place small drops of the colors on it, and let them indulge in some cloud painting.
Homemade chalk paint
This DIY finger paint is perfect for fuss-free outdoor time or quiet indoor time. Like the other recipe above, this paint also comes together instantly with pantry ingredients. This paint is great for pastel hues and lighter shades and once it dries it looks like chalk. Since it’s very easily washable, you can use it on surfaces like tiles, backyard floors, etc. And this makes it perfect for outdoor painting or bathroom tile and tub painting! Let your little artists paint to their heart’s content and then wash it all off.
- 1 cup corn flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 cup cold water
- Washable colors or gel icing colors of choice
Mix corn flour, salt and cold water in different bowls or cups till it reaches the desired consistency.
Add different colors to separate bowls
Dip your fingers in and let’s begin!
A word of caution: Use icing gel colors or washable colors that do not stain so you can wash it off without any accidents.
How to play
Take your little ones outside to soak in some Vitamin D while they let loose their inner Picasso on the driveway, garage door, or window panes. Wash it off after.
Toddlers driving you crazy? Need some quiet time for both of you to recover? Set them in for a bath and give them chalk paint to finger paint using the bathtub as a canvas. Once done, give both the bathtub and the little artists a good scrub. Ta-da!
Both of these are edible finger paint recipes that will set your mind at ease while the littles are busy painting the rainbow of their dreams! Do let us know which of these finger painting ideas you used to make your weekend lively and fun!
Looking for other ideas to keep the kids meaningfully occupied? Check out PlayShifu’s range of multi-award winning STEM game sets!