Painting is a staple activity in a kid’s life. It pushes them to be creative, to think outside the box, and to express themselves. With many media and materials to experiment with, there will never be a shortage of what to make. Here are 30 fun & easy ideas to kick-start the painting activities with your kids!
Let’s start with the closest thing from your kids: themselves. Put a mirror in front of them and ask them to paint a self-portrait. If you want, you can show them Modigliani’s paintings for inspirations.
2. Meet the family
Moving on the second closest thing: the family. Ask your kids to draw the family, plus the quirks of each member if they’d like. Maybe daddy always wears a hat, or little sister never goes anywhere without her teddy bear; encourage them to observe and paint it.
3. Characters in the books
If you regularly read stories to your kids, ask them about their favorite characters, and encourage them to recreate the characters in their own painting. From Dr. Seuss’ books to the more elaborate stories like Alice in Wonderland, there are plenty of characters to choose.
Kids are usually very observant, and it would be fun to see the place you live in through their eyes. Ask them to include the things that interest them the most about the place. It could be the monuments, the parks, the buildings, or something else you might not expect!
5. Fingerprint people
The idea is to create different characters using only your finger, paint, and markers. Water down the paint on a plate, then dip your finger into the mix, and stamp it onto some paper. This fingerprint will serve as the head. With markers, draw the face and the hair (or even the body, if you’d like), and now you’ve got a fingerprint person! Create many fingerprint people and get creative with different expressions, hairstyles, accessories (you can add hats, ribbons, glasses, or anything you fancy), or even clothing.
6. Fingerprint animals
With the same technique for creating fingerprint people, you can also create animals with your fingerprints. Penguins, owls, spiders, chicks, ladybugs, anything goes. Use the fingerprint as the body (or head), and draw the rest of the other body parts (legs or wings, for example) with markers.
7. Handprint turkey
Take it further by using not just your finger, but your hand. To make a turkey, put each paint on a plate, then paint the hand. Paint the finger with any color(s) you want (this will be the turkey’s feathers), and your palm and thumb with brown (this will be the turkey’s body and head). Press your hand onto the paper, and with crayons or markers, draw the legs and beak to complete the turkey.
8. Cotton bud trees
This is a very simple yet fun painting activity. To make a tree, draw a trunk and a few branches, then dip the cotton buds in the paint, and tap the cotton bud onto the paper. Use different colors to make a really nice, colorful blend of trees. For example, for autumn foliage you can use red, orange, and yellow (or the mix between those), and alternate between those colors.
Let your kids’ imaginations run free and encourage them to draw their own unique monsters. It could be in any shape and color, there’s no limitation. When they’re done, ask them to tell the stories about the monsters.
10. The seasons
Every season has its own distinct features. For example, snow belongs to winter, and red-orange foliage belongs to autumn, while the blooming flowers mark the season of spring. Help your kids learn the seasons and their characteristics, then encourage them to paint any season as they wish, along with the things usually found in the season.
11. The snow effect
For your winter painting, there’s a fun way to incorporate a snow effect using a plastic comb and an old toothbrush. Hold the comb 4-5 inches above the painting, dip your old toothbrush in the paint and rub it on the comb over and over again, creating tiny specks on the painting. Perfect for a snow effect!
12. Egg painting
Kids love egg painting, especially if it’s followed by an egg-hunting game. What to paint on eggs? Anything! Faces, animals, polka dots, or simply a rainbow of colors are some of the things your kids can paint on eggs. For less hassle, you can use plastic eggs that are sold for this purpose.
13. A family coat of arms
A family coat of arms originates from Europe during the Middle Ages, a symbol for knights who fought on the battlefield. But these days, it is not reserved only for knights, and you can ask your kids to create your family coat of arms. A coat of arms usually reflects the values, characters, and hopes for the family (for example, your family’s strong value could be loyalty, bravery, honesty, or anything else). Have a discussion with your kids about what they think the family’s values are, and let them get creative!
14. Mondrian-inspired painting
Mondrian was a Dutch painter who’s best known for his geometric paintings, using black lines and the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) on a white background. Show your kids Mondrian’s paintings, and encourage them to paint like Mondrian. Start with drawing squares or rectangles with black paint, and wait until it dries. Once dry, fill them in with red, yellow, or blue color.
15. Van Gogh’s Starry Night
Introduce your older kids to this world-famous painter and his paintings, and encourage them to observe his style (Van Gogh liked to play with strong brush strokes and create a dramatic effect), to later recreate one of his most famous paintings, The Starry Night.
16. Outer space
Many kids are deeply fascinated by outer space, so why not encourage them to paint it? They can paint the things they’ve learned about outer space and the solar system, like the planets, stars, satellites, astronauts, rockets, or even aliens. This will work wonder especially if you’ve had a little outing to a science museum or planetarium before this project.
17. Under the sea
Entering a totally different world from outer space, is the world under the sea. There’s an abundance of things to draw here, be it corals, algae, crabs, sea horses, different kinds of fish, and other sea creatures. Just like the previous idea, a visit to a marine park or aquarium might help give your kids ideas about lives under the sea.
18. A world of their own
Kids are full of imaginations and creativity. Dig into your kids’ imaginary world by encouraging them to paint it. Maybe they’re thinking of trees that produce candies, or machines that create robots, or chocolate waterfalls. The possibilities are endless, and you might be blown away by your kids’ imaginations.
19. The dream vacation
Ask your kids about their dream vacation. Where would they like to go, and what sort of activity would they do? Encourage them to create their dream vacations on a paper.
20. I want to be…
Older kids might have developed clearer ideas about what they want to be when they grow up. Encourage your kids to dream high, and paint those dreams on paper. If you’d like, you can hang it on the wall, as a sort of goal reminder for your kids.
21. The dream house
Most kids think about their dream houses at some point, and while we’re talking about their dreams, a dream house seems apt to be included here. Encourage your kids to explain about the details of the house (even if the painting is not as detailed, sometimes their imaginations are).
22. Flags of the world
Help your kids learn the countries around the world with this fun way: painting the flags. For younger kids, use one piece of A4 paper for each flag. With older kids, you can cut the paper in half as they have more developed fine motor skills.
23. Scratch art
Color a piece of paper with different crayons (the more colors the better) until the paper is all covered with colors. Put a black paint over the paper until it covers the entire page (and colors), wait for it to dry. Once dry, give your kids paperclips (in different sizes if possible, to make variations), and ask them to ‘paint’ using the paperclips, by scratching the black paint. The reveal of the rainbow colors is the most fun part!
24. Aboriginal art
Pretend you were an Aborigine and make a boomerang to complete the story! Help your kids cut the boomerang shapes from a piece of cardboard, and now it’s up to them how they want to decorate the boomerangs. Show them different photos of original boomerangs for them to draw inspirations on what to paint on theirs.
For older kids, learning about the ancient cultures around the world can be really interesting. There’s a wide range of petroglyph varieties around the world, and kids can use these for inspirations to make their own petroglyphs. For an authentic look, use rough grit sandpapers and broken crayons with colors that contrast the sandpaper.
26. Treasure map
There is something intriguing and exciting about treasure maps, and it’s one of the most popular things among kids. Ask them to create their own treasure maps, either for a hunt in an imaginary land or a real land.
27. Painting with sponges
This is a very easy and fun way to get messy with your kids. Cut the sponges into any shape you like, then dip it in the paint, and stamp it on a paper! Don’t know where to start? Cut the sponges into different sizes of circle (circle stamp is the most versatile), and use it to create the sun, clouds, caterpillar, flowers, trees, or anything your kids want.
28. Holi painting
Kids love colorful paintings, and Holi is the perfect inspiration for this idea. Using watercolor paint and a brush, create a Holi painting with a burst of colors! Simply mix the paint with water, dip the brush in it and let it drizzle. Try it with as many colors as your kids like.
Use a dark-colored paper and paint your fireworks with bright colors. If you want to make it more fun for the kids, use a straw to ‘paint’ the fireworks. First, cut each straw in half. Then mix the paint with water (it should be watery enough for easier spread), and drop the paint onto the paper so it makes a puddle. Using the straw, blow on the puddle to spread it, and watch as the puddle turns into a fireworks explosion! Repeat this process until you get a lively, colorful painting of fireworks. You can add more details with paintbrushes.
The best cards are personalized cards, especially if it’s handmade. If there’s any celebration that’s coming soon, it’s the perfect time to get your kids make their own cards. Birthday, Christmas, New Year, or even anniversary! Explain the celebration to them (for instance, what it is about and the traditions that are attached to it, if any) to give your kids ideas about what to paint.