In search of fun and simple painting projects to do with your toddler? 

You’ve come to the right place. 

My toddler girl LOVES to paint. She’d seriously paint all day if I let her. But in order to keep things interesting, we often try out new objects and canvases to paint with. And lately, we’ve come up with some pretty creative and entertaining ideas. 

In this post, we’ll give you a few tips and tricks for painting with your toddler and cover 4 fun and easy painting ideas that are perfect for toddlers. 

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Tips for Painting with Toddlers

Before we get into the nity-grity, I want to give you some tips to help painting with your toddler go more smoothly. 

  • Strip or use old clothes: No doubt about it, things are going to get messy. Savor your toddler’s favorite clothes by stripping them down to their undies/diaper or dressing them in old clothes you don’t care about. 
  • Lay out a tarp or go outside: Minimize your cleanup time by laying down a tarp or doing your painting projects outside. The bathtub is also a great place for painting with toddlers. 
  • Try not to “help”: Your toddler is learning so many things through arts and crafts. They’re developing their fine motor skills, expanding their imagination, and learning how to express themselves without words.
    I know it can be tempting to step in, but try and let your toddler do most of the work themselves. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to give them a quick example before you start or help them when they ask, just remember that it’s their project. 
  • Shift your expectations: Your toddler’s artwork may not turn out as you envisioned, but that it a-okay! In fact, the entire project may not go as-planned, but just try to roll with it. If your toddler doesn’t want to use a sponge and asks for a paint brush, go ahead and give her one. This is her time to create. 
  • Create when your toddler is the most motivated: Try to plan projects for when your toddler is at her best behavior game. For most toddlers, this is in the morning hours. This will help create the most fun for you and your toddler. 

4 Fun Painting Projects for Toddlers

Here are four of our favorite toddler painting ideas that you can try with your little ones. 

Dandelion Prints

Before you go out and mow your overgrown grass, hand your toddler a basket and let them have a blast picking all the dandelions they can find in your backyard. 

My kiddos spent a good half hour outside just picking dandelions. And bonus, we all got some vitamin D. 

After your toddler gets all “picked-out” bring your basket inside and get ready to paint some prints. 

I just poured out three different paint colors onto a plate for easy dipping and printing. I showed my toddler how to dip and print once and then let her go to town. 

If your toddler will let you, try to break the stems down a bit, so they’re easier for your toddler to hold and manipulate. 

My 3 year old quite enjoyed making prints with dandelions, but my 1 year old kept trying to eat the paint, so he just got a snack instead. We ended up doing edible painting that same week, so he could really join in on the fun. 

Sponge Painting

Another awesome art idea for toddlers and little kids is to paint with sponges. 

You can usually get a 2 pack of sponges at your local dollar store, and they also typically come with the curved edges, that you see with the blue sponges in the picture below.  

Cut your sponges into fun shapes and different sizes. Search for various objects around your house that you can use to trace and cut your outline. 

You can also theme your sponge painting for various seasons or holidays. Our last sponge painting was stars and stripes for the 4th of July. 

Pour your paint out onto a few different plates and spread it around, so the printing area of your sponge can get covered in one dip. 

Let your toddler try out the various shapes and colors and create their masterpiece. What they come up with may be pretty darn neat! 


Fly Swatter Painting

Okay, so I’m not going to lie; This project was definitely my personal fave.

I mean how does swinging a fly swatter filled with paint across a piece of paper not sound fun? 

If you don’t have a fly swatter lying around, I’m sure you can find one at your local dollar store. That’s where we got these two. 

Grab your fly swatters, a cookie sheet, some paint and paint brushes, and a large piece of paper and head outside. 

We just used our Melissa & Doug Wooden Art Easel for this project, but you could also tape your paper to a fence if you have one. 

Remember, it may help to dress your toddler in old clothes and/or use an art smock in case things get pretty wild. 

Your toddler will have a blast swatting their paint. 

My toddler, of course, kept asking for more and more colors to be poured onto the tray, so things got pretty colorful, but it turned out so awesome. 

Colorful Car Tracks (And Bonus Car Wash)

This dual activity was by far both my toddlers’ favorite painting project we’ve done. 

Little dude loves cars, so I thought he might enjoy this activity, and I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t try to eat the paint even once! 

In hindsight, I should’ve laid a tarp out or put the kids in the tub for this activity, but hey, my floors needed cleaned anyway. This would also be a good activity to do outside if you have a paved driveway. 

Lay out a few large pieces of paper, grab some small cars, and pick out your paint colors

At first, I placed the paint on a plate, thinking the kids would do a good job tracking their cars through the piles and then racing them on the paper, but it honestly worked out much better just placing a few globs of paint directly on the paper. 

The kids had SO much fun painting with their cars and making colorful tracks and I quite enjoyed watching them. Even though things got very, very messy. 

A fair amount of paint got on the floor, and little man decided to use his body as a canvas instead. And since lil’ bro was doing it, of course big sis had to paint her body as well.

After your toddlers are done painting, give them a large bowl or bucket filled with soapy water and let them have a car wash! Some soapy water will probably get on your floors as well, so take this opportunity to do some toddler chores and scrub the floors with your kids. 

Messy Painting Fun

Painting with toddlers is messy, but oh so fun. Plus, it has many benefits for your toddler, including improving hand-eye coordination, expanding creativity, and learning about colors, shapes, and many other objects and subjects. 

Now you have 4 more art projects to keep your toddler engaged and creating. Plan these painting projects in your toddler’s near schedule. 

What About You?

Have you and your toddler tried any of these 4 painting projects? Share your favorite toddler painting ideas in the comments below and be sure to share this post with other toddler moms. 

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