Toddler activities: finger-painting fun

What is it about finger-painting that kids love so much? Being allowed to make a mess is a big part of the fun! Here’s how to get your hands dirty while keeping the mess in check.

Finger Painting with Kids - How to Start?

Cover up. Pick a room in the house where you feel comfortable having your child use paints. Spread newspaper all over the floor and table. Roll up her sleeves and help her put on an apron, smock or oversized shirt to protect her clothing.

Play with textures and colors. Finger-painting is a fun way for your child to experiment with textures and colors. For example, add more water to show her how the paint becomes slippery, or mix primary colors so she can see how they change.

Share with your child. Talk to her about how the paint feels on her fingers. Encourage her to use descriptive words or metaphors.

Make a print. You can make a print of your child's finger painting by placing another piece of paper over the surface of the painting and pressing down gently. Pin it to the refrigerator for everyone to admire!

Finger painting is one of the best ways for children to express themselves creatively. Besides spending quality time with their parents, they also strengthen hand and finger muscles and learn about mixing colors.

What you’ll need

  • Newspaper

  • An apron or an old shirt

  • Water-resistant paper, including shiny finger-painting paper

  • Primary-color finger paints, store-bought or home-made (see below for recipe)


If your child is reluctant to get her hands "dirty" with finger paints, you can substitute other materials, like liquid soap, shaving cream with a drop of food coloring, or even chocolate pudding!

Make Your Own Finger Paint

Recipe 1:

  • 1 to 3 tablespoons liquid starch

  • 1 tablespoon tempera paint

Spread liquid starch (instead of water) on finger-painting surface. Add tempera paint. Recipe 2:

  • 4 cups cold water

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon tempera paint or food coloring

Mix water and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add paint or food coloring, or divide the mixture into three parts and add three different colors.

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