Toddler activities: finger-painting fun

What is it about finger-painting that kids love so much? Being allowed to make a mess is a big part of the fun! Here's how to get your hands dirty while keeping the mess in check.

Cover up

Find a room in the house where you feel comfortable having your child use paints. Spread newspaper all over the floor and table. Roll up her sleeves and help her put on an apron, smock or oversized shirt to protect her clothing.

Play with textures and colours

Finger-painting is a fun way for your child to experiment with textures and colours. For example, add more water to show her how the paint becomes slippery, or mix primary colours so she can see how they change.

Share with your child

Talk to her about how the paint feels on her fingers. Encourage her to use descriptive words or metaphors.

Make a print

You can make a print of your child's finger painting by placing another piece of paper over the surface of the painting and pressing down gently. Pin it to the refrigerator for everyone to admire!

Finger-painting is one of the best ways for children to express themselves creatively. Besides spending quality time with their parents, they also strengthen hand and finger muscles and learn about mixing colours.

What you'll need

  • Newspaper

  • An apron or an old shirt

  • Water-resistant paper, including shiny finger-painting paper

  • Primary-colour finger-paints, shop-bought or homemade (see below for recipe)


If your child is reluctant to get her hands 'dirty' with finger paints, you can substitute other materials, like liquid soap, shaving cream with a drop of food colouring, or even chocolate pudding!

Make your own finger paint

Recipe 1:

  • 1 to 3 tablespoons liquid starch (or water and corn flour)

  • 1 tablespoon tempera paint

Spread the liquid starch (instead of water) on the finger-painting surface. Add tempera paint. Recipe 2:

  • 945 ml cold water

  • 150 g corn flour

  • 1 teaspoon tempera paint or food colouring

Mix the water and cornstarch. Cook over a medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add paint or food colouring, or divide the mixture into three parts and add three different colours.

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