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Guide to painting with kids 101

I've hosted several online and in person painting classes for kids and families. Painting is such a fun idea but when but into application it can feel overwhelming for parents and teachers alike. With a few simple and easy changes, tips and tricks, you can make this experience memorable, enjoyable and filled with learning for both you and your children.

Running a fingerpainting art class for a total of 40 kids aged 4-15 all in 6 hours. My husband was also running a miniature painting class in another room for kids aged 10-17.

Image from WiX

Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Choose the right materials: Non-toxic and washable paints, brushes, and canvases are a must with young children.Yet with enthusiastic teens, p Look for paints that are easy to clean up with just soap and water. Consider using washable smocks or old shirts to protect clothes.

  2. Set up a designated painting area: Choose a place with a large, easy-to-clean surface, like a plastic tablecloth or a roll of craft paper. You may also want to have some old rags or paper towels on hand for quick clean ups. One thing I got that helped me so much was buying a thin king size blanket from a thrift store and have it be your craft blanket. It also works as a mighty fine picnic blanket when you need to dry it out.

  3. Keep it simple: When you look at the pieces of art you are most proud of, it's the ones where you got to play and also learn at the same time. Young kids often become frustrated if the painting process is too complicated. Encourage them to use their imagination and let their creativity flow. A few simple strokes of the brush can create a beautiful masterpiece. Don't be too concerned to get to an end, painting with young kids is not like that.

  4. Use large brushes: look around at your local habitat for humanity or home despot! There are many different brushes. Large brushes are easier for small hands to hold, and they can cover more surface area with each stroke. This makes it easier for kids to create bold, colorful works of art. Try to get ones with handles that are wide enough to hold easily with small hands.

  5. Offer a variety of colors: Provide a wide range of colors, including bright and bold hues, to inspire creativity and imagination. Encourage kids to mix and experiment with different colors. I like to have the colors in enclosed spaces such as jars too, so they don't get as easily messed with and muddied. Yellow is such a hard color to keep 'clean' as it just wants to mix with everything else!

  6. Encourage experimentation: Painting is a process, not just a product. Encourage kids to try different techniques, like using their fingers or making prints with everyday objects. Making your own paintbrushes out of sticks and leaves and whatever you find never fails to disappoint!

  7. Clean up as you go: Wipe up spills and drips as soon as they happen to minimize the mess. Encourage your young learners to pick up too, messes are a part of artwork! Cleaning up after each painting session will make it easier to start fresh next time, and will keep everything close together.

A painting I made with my son when he was 8 out of a large piece of watercolor and sunshine.

Painting with young children can be a fun and rewarding experience. With a little preparation and patience, you can help your kids unleash their inner artists and create beautiful works of art that they'll be proud of for years to come.

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