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Painting Without A Paintbrush

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Painting Without A Paintbrush Julle Corsi

In early childhood settings one of the most popular experiences that a child enjoys is painting. As soon as the painting area is set up, there always seems to be a “charge” for the smocks and arguing about who is having the first turn. Painting is inviting, simple and engaging for a child and supports their overall learning and development.

Materials to Paint With

Within the stages of Artistic Development most children in early childhood services are at “The Scribble Stage” (2-4 years). During this stage children begin to feel like they can make things happen. They begin to explore and make marks on any surface. Children experiment with anything that leaves an impression. It’s important to guide children to experience a variety of materials and encourage then to enjoy the process of what they can do.

To support children through “The Scribble Stage” here is a list of materials which can be used during a painting experience instead of a paintbrush:

  • Mops – tape sheets of paper to the floor and let children mop away the colours.
  • Magnet and Paperclip – add blobs of paint onto a paper plate, add a paperclip on top of the paint, beneath the paint move a magnet to move the paperclip through the paint to create a design.
  • Hairdryer – add blobs of paint onto paper, turn on hair dryer on and blow the paint away.
  • Salad Spinner – add spoonful of coloured paints onto a paper plate, insert into salad spinner and spin away.
  • Rubber Bands – place paper onto a baking tray and wrap rubber bands around it, paint rubber bands and then pull back rubber bands and let them go.
  • Milk – in a tray add milk, droplets of food colouring and use a fork to create designs by slowly mixing the colouring into the milk.
  • Foods (celery, apples, carrots, potatoes, dried pasta, frozen fish (scale painting) etc.) - these can be cut into specific designs, used for printing or just dipped and paint).
  • Balls (bumpy balls, golf balls, basketball, tennis ball, marbles, bouncy balls etc.) – balls can be kicked, thrown, bounced or rolled onto paper to create an impression.
  • Toilet Plungers – messy outdoor activity which requires big sheets of paper and lots of paint.
  • Bath Puffs, Shower Sponges, Loofa – creates a splotchy effect.
  • Fly Swatters – draw small flies onto the paper before squashing them with paint.
  • Potato Mashes – see what type of print is left behind.
  • Shoes – dip bottom of shoes into paint to create different prints.
  • Water Balloons – carefully fill a water balloon with paint and watch it burst with colour onto paper.
  • Windup Toys – on a blob of paint, let a windup toy plough through the paint.
  • Funnel – tie a funnel onto a stick, add paint into the funnel and swing as paint drops to the paper below.
  • CD – add dots of coloured paints onto a cd and spin it in to create a rainbow effect.
  • Corn – dip corn into paint and roll onto paper.
  • Ice – freeze water and food colouring, as it melts paint with come through.

The possibilities with the sorts of different materials that can be used to paint with are endless! This list will get you started in providing opportunities for children to experiment with colour and form.


Book – Prasad, Sangeeta 2008. Creative Expressions: Say It With Art.


Created On January 6, 2015 Last modified on Friday, May 15, 2015
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