Last year I couldn’t get S to touch anything that might stick to her hands, or even anything she just thought might stick to her hands. However, recently she has been into experimenting with all different sorts of feelings and textures. She likes to paint, but I have learned that it is best not to limit her to paper and paintbrushes. Instead, I add some toys to the mix that she can use as a “canvas”, or use to “paint” with along with paintbrushes and sponges. I also make sure to set her up in an area where it is OK to get messy, for us that is the garage floor with a big piece of paper spread across it.
Sometimes the area extends into the driveway as she experiments with things like rolling paint covered cars down our driveway.Despite the fact that the paint is non-toxic, I do try to prevent it from going in her mouth; however when it comes to her hands, legs, and even her hair I do not usually say anything since I don’t want to interrupt her fun with having to worry about “silly grown-up rules”. I do interrupt the fun sometimes to take pictures though because how can I resist capturing these moments?
For toys to use and paint on, S is usually pretty content with her little Matchbox cars. She covers them in paint and also rolls them across the ground to make tracks. Additionally, I have given her toys from her play kitchen (she likes the rolling pin), plastic figurines and other small plastic toys, as well as some sponges to play with and plates to mix the paint on (and of course smear her hands around in as well).
Initially she will sit and actually “paint” a little bit, though she seems to prefer to paint on her toys and other objects rather than on paper. This is something I completely encourage, l love letting her explore and I will paint along with her. Usually I try to let her lead the activity. I don’t want to influence her too much in terms of what to do and paint because I love to watch her own creativity develop and see what her little mind comes up with.
Painting is a great activity for us on a hot summer day because almost better than the painting part is the cleanup part. We get out the hose and S gets to wash herself as well as all her toys, something that she loves to do. She also gets to play with the hose a bit which is always a great way to end a morning or afternoon activity.
Painting is a little bit of structured play for S, as in we have to set it up for her a bit, but once we get the materials out I try to leave it as open for her as possible. When I can I just sit back and watch, but when she wants me to partake in the activity I join in the fun. I have found that providing her with more than just paper and paintbrushes provides her with a lot more opportunities to be creative and just have fun.