Finger Painting Without the Mess

I saw this idea on Pinterest, and it was right up my alley. I loved the combination of sensory play, fine motor, color vocabulary opportunities, color mixing concepts, and best of all easy clean-up.

 Pinned Image

Since we’re on G this week, I used yellow and blue paint to make green.  I never even went to the actual post for directions, just sort of put together my own version.  This was what I consider a very successful activity.  The sensation and visual effect of the paint moving underneath the plastic surface was actually very calming and relaxing, kind of mesmerizing.  You know how certain things just feel good?  Well, this just felt good!  You might just catch me doing this when no one else is around.

Here’s what it looked like when we started:

Activity:  Ziplock bag no-mess painting.


1.  Quart-size plastic sealable bag.

2.  Washable tempera paint.

3.  White paper.

4.  Painter’s tape.


1.  Tape white paper to table with painter’s tape (no residue) for contrast.

2.  Put enough paint in the sealable bag to thoroughly coat the bottom once spread.

3.  Seal the bag with as little air remaining as possible.

4.  Tape the bag on top of the white paper, folding down the seal underneath the bag to protect it from being opened.  (I skipped this step in the picture.)

5.  Show your child how to move the paint around with his fingers by pressing on the plastic, mixing the colors if there is more than one.

Here’s what it looked like when we were finished:

I started out just expecting to talk with Noah about how yellow and blue make green, but I saw some extension activities pretty quickly emerging.  We talked about lines and circles.  I modeled making a circle, and Noah copied mine.  We worked on making X’s too.  I think this will be an activity we will repeat many times to practice letters, shapes, numbers, you name it!!!!  Later on in the day I got the bag out again and gave it to my 8-year-old to practice his cursive on.  I gave him a card with all the cursive letters on it and asked him to duplicate them on the bag.  He only got to G before he was tired of it, but I’m thinking some of  my other children would have been happy to go the whole way through.   Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll have him go back and try manuscript letters since those are easy for him.

Incidentally, I had my other toddlers do this with us, and they really enjoyed it.  They were getting awfully curious about how the paint got in the bag and hence how to get the paint out of the bag, so I had to really keep my eye on them.

Another fun idea I saw was to put glitter in with the paint.  That’s just too irresistible, isn’t it?

Gotta run – off to find the glitter.


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