Painting with Children
If there’s one thing that all kids love, then that’s painting! Painting provides a brilliant fun, creative craft for children to express themselves and have a wonderful time whilst doing so. Whether painting pictures from imagination or the real world, making hand print collages, potato stamping or just going wild with the colour palette, children love the incredibly creative world of painting.
However, not all paint is the same and it can be difficult at times to know what are the best paints for children to use. Some paints can be difficult to clean, others unsuitable for the type of painting your kids want to do and some may even be toxic. In this handy guide, we’ll be covering which paints are safe to use, easy to clean and which ones are the best to use for different painting activities. Let’s get started!
Keeping things safe
It is very important to make sure that the paint your children are using is safe and not toxic. Many paints available can be high in toxic substances such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and these can be very hazardous, particularly to children. These kinds of paints tend to be oil based and children should be kept away from using these.
Instead, try using tempera paints, specially designed children’s activity paints, and watercolours. If you want to make sure a paint is safe for children to use then check it has been certified as a non-toxic, child friendly substance by the British Standards Agency. These paints have been thoroughly tested and deemed safe for children to use according to British Standards.
The best choices for safe, child friendly paints are organically produced (or ‘eco’) paints which contain no chemical toxins, although you should always check for allergies which your children may have.
Keeping things tidy
There’s no escaping it, painting with kids can be messy! However, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by picking paints to use which are easier to clean and work with than others.
Tempera paint is made using dry, naturally occurring powders mixed with natural ingredients such as egg, milk or plant-based materials. Aside from being non-toxic, the paint is also very easy to clean and usually washes off well. However, keep in mind that, if you’re using powdered tempera paints, make sure to mix them away from children as dust particles may be harmful to them. Watercolours are also very similar to tempera paints and are usually easy to clean.
Activity paints and finger paints are the perfect options for using with children if you think things are going to get really messy. These paints have been specifically designed to be used on a large scale without causing too much mess, being easy to wash off skin and, in some cases, materials too. Usually the thicker the paint is, the less likely it is to splash so try choosing ones which are quite substantial and thick in texture to stop them getting everywhere when the kids get creative!
Choosing the right paint…
Knowing which paints are best to use for which activities can go a long way to enhancing the painting experience for you and your kids.
If your children want to do something with their hands (or even their feet!), activity paints and finger paints are your best options, providing bright, nontoxic, thick paints which work well on thick paper products and adhere to a large variety of surfaces. They’re also quite easy to clean off hands and feet too if you’re going to get very messy with them.
Watercolours are best used on thick paper (ideally watercolour paper) and provide a wide variety of muted, water-based tonnes which are very easy to clean up if they splash. Whilst watercolours are nontoxic and very easy to use on a basic level, try using them for smaller painting projects rather than anything too ambitious.
Finally, tempera paints and acrylic paints are the ideal all-rounders, lending brilliant, vibrant colours for all different types of painting including potato stamping, paper painting, hand prints and anything used on organic surfaces like wood. However, remember that not all acrylics are safe to use for children and most are quite difficult to wash out of materials.
We hope we’ve given you some useful tips and advise for choosing the right paints, and how to use them, when painting with children. Remember to look out for whether a paint is toxic or not as well as your children’s own allergies and try and use the right paint for the appropriate activity. Aside from this, there’s nothing to stop you having a great time painting with your kids and getting creative with paint, so get out there and see what your kids create!