By Kylie Dawson


Paint! What a glorious and wonderful substance! There are so many ways to play with and explore paint, and often the best thing to do is to put your child in some old clothes, put an old towel down on the table or floor, and let them play with it in whatever way they want.  But, if you and your child are looking for some new ideas, get ready to get messy, and have a lot of fun, and check out my suggestions below.  


Swirling, whirly painting

What you will need: 

  • Old strainer or colander (check out the op shops)
  • Plastic or old cups
  • Stirrers, like paddle pop sticks or old spoons from the op shop
  • Cardboard, or a canvas
  • Paint you can pour, like non-toxic acrylic paint

What you do:

1) Place the colander on the cardboard/canvas

2) Pour the paint into your cups – you can do one colour at a time, or per cup, or you can add lots of colours to one cup

3) Pour the paint into the colander and experiment! You can pour fast or slow, you can pour in a little paint and then jiggle the colander and see what happens.  You can pour in a range of colours and then jiggle the colander, take the colander away and gently tilt the cardboard/canvas to swirl and move the paint.  You can pour in the paint and watch as it slowly seeps through the colander and onto the cardboard/canvas. 


Water balloon painting

What you will need:

  • Thick cardboard or a canvas
  • Water balloons
  • Non-toxic acrylic paint

What you do:

1) Set the cardboard/canvas up so it can stand – maybe you have an old chair, or it can sit on an old towel against the shed or a tree

2) Half fill the water balloons with paint and tie them off

3) Ready, aim, fire!! Throw the water balloons at the cardboard/canvas and watch them explode with colour!

4) Once done, be sure to collect all the water balloons and place them in the bin. 


Treasure hunt painting

What you will need:

  • A basket to gather items
  • Non-toxic paints
  • Paper/cardboard/canvases/materials

What you do:

1) Set off on a treasure hunt to gather lots of different items – sticks, leaves, rocks, feathers, cotton wool balls, cotton buds, paint brushes, bits of old cloth

2) Gather all your treasures and explore! What can you create when you paint with a stick, or a feather? What happens when you hold a cotton wool ball with a peg and dip that into paint and create? What happens when you try and paint with an old piece of cloth? Is it hard or easy to paint with a rock? 


And, whilst it is enormously fun, and extremely beneficial for children to engage in creative experiences, as adults we can (understandably) get hung up on the clean-up that will follow.  Try and buffer this with a designated messy area that is well protected (old yoga mats or large drop sheets are great) and set the expectation that after painting, it is bath time.  A small, foldable clothesline (similar to the one you might take camping) is also a great place to hang artworks so they are out of the way and can properly dry. And then, let yourself explore and have fun!