There are so many incredible benefits of painting for children which makes this art form so much more than just colourful fun for kids!
Children strengthen many blooming abilities while taking part in this enjoyable activity as painting has many social, emotional, physical and intellectual benefits.
What are the Benefits of Painting for Toddlers and Preschoolers?
The importance of drawing and painting in child development should not be overlooked. So, what skills does painting develop in toddlers and preschoolers?
Some of the advantages gained when young children experiment with paints are probably obvious, such as practising control of their hands and expressing their creativity.
Many of the developmental benefits of art may be a bit more hidden, however. Let’s explore how painting helps a child’s development.
1. Fine Motor Control
While children manipulate various tools to paint, they exercise and strengthen the small muscles in their hands, wrists, and fingers.
This is important for learning to hold pencils and pens when they write at school and also in turning the pages of books as they read.
2. Gross Motor Control
Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles of the body, which are also called into action while children paint.
Some types of painting, such as those using a wide surface area to be painted (a wall, the paving, a large sheet of paper) and large painting tools are good exercises for the large muscles.
3. Eye-Hand Coordination
Eye-hand coordination involves using information taken in through the eyes to guide both fine and gross motor activities.
Learning to control paintbrushes and other painting tools is a great way to gain eye-hand coordination, with a focus not on the tool or where it should land on the painting surface, but on the space in between.
4. Visual Perception
Visual perception is when the brain makes sense of what a person’s eyes are seeing.
Painting may be used in several ways to support kids’ visual perceptual development, for example:
- Copying a picture that is set right next to them into their own painting
- Completing partly-painted pictures
- Finger painting shapes or other images
- Painting within an outlined boundary on paper surfaces
5. Spatial Attention
Also sometimes referred to as visual-spatial attention or visuospatial attention, this is the ability to visualize shapes in the mind’s eye.
These skills are important for future work in maths, technology, science, engineering, and visual arts.
This skill is practised before beginning a painting, when young artists typically imagine the plan in their mind, and even when turning the picture this way and that.
Young kids are willing to take a chance on their art and tend not to worry about the finished product.
When adults avoid giving children directions or example drawings, painting offers a great way for them to practise creativity without being concerned about what other people think of their masterpieces.
7. Healthy Expression of Emotions
Children often do not have the words for what is in their minds and hearts.
Painting offers them a way to express their feelings through the use of colours, lines, shapes, and textures, even the act of making a mess.
Painting is also quite a calming activity for anxious, frustrated, or worried children.
8. Art Appreciation
After learning about and observing the works of famous artists, children can play around with trying that same style in their own paintings.
Kids also learn to appreciate the art of their peers and are guided by adults in giving positive feedback to each other.
9. Planning Skills
Painting gives children the opportunity to plan which paints and tools to use in their projects.
As they get started, they also plan what they wish to represent, where various shapes should be placed in their pictures, and which colours to use.
On paper scraps, kids can draw samples of their plans and even try out colour combinations.
10. Pre-Writing Skills
These are the basic skills that are necessary for learning to write.
Manipulating the tools used in painting, in addition to working with lines and shapes, are important pre-writing abilities incorporated into art and painting.
11. Sensory Language Development
Painting gives children the opportunity to use most of their senses while working with various textures and colours.
They explore their world through various materials used in art and also express themselves verbally while telling about their works.
12. Attention Span
Kids learn to take it slowly while painting in order to get the results they want.
For children who are easily distracted, having them paint often will help lengthen their concentration span over time.
These are just a few of the painting benefits for toddlers and preschoolers.
This post contains affiliate links for educational products that I personally recommend. If you purchase through one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read the terms and conditions for more details.
15 Painting Ideas for Kids
The best way to let children fully experience painting is to offer various types of washable, non-toxic paints, tools and surfaces.
Don’t just stick to paper and a standard brush. Experiment to see what works best for you and your kids.
1. Finger Painting
Store-bought finger paints are available, and you can also make your own.
Special paper for finger painting is also sold in stores, but any type of paper that is non-absorbent or glossy on at least one side should work.
Have low cups ready for the individual colours and large brushes or plastic spoons for transferring the paints to hands or papers.
2. Brush Painting
Various types of paints may be used with brushes of all different sizes. These include acrylic, finger paint, tempera and watercolours.
Different types of surfaces can also be offered, such as paper, poster board, cardboard and fabric.
3. Stamp Painting
Acrylic or tempera paints are good choices for stamp painting.
You can make your own easy stamps by cutting vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, apples, mushrooms and oranges, into halves. They can be dipped and stamped for kids to observe the beauty and symmetry of nature.
4. Sponge Painting
Set up some washable poster paint and sponges in various shapes. They can be store-bought or you can use whatever sponges you have at home.
For easier handling and less mess, use a clothespin attached to the sponge as a “handle”.
Paint on individual sheets of paper or on a large table surface covered with a roll of tabletop paper.
5. Spray Painting
Outdoors, give kids spray bottles filled with mixtures of water with food colouring or washable paints.
They can spray large surfaces of paper from rolls, cardboard boxes and fabrics.
6. Water Colours
Use watercolour sets that range in offerings from a few primary colours to a wider assortment of tones.
On absorbent paper, let children experiment with mixing colours. Have low cups of water available for rinsing brushes in between colours.
7. Roller Painting
For roller painting you will need these materials:
- Large papers
- Paint rollers or diy rollers
- Tempera or gouache/poster paints
- Low, disposable aluminium pans for the paints.
8. Splatter Painting
For this fun painting, use thin paints, such as liquid watercolours or watered-down tempera and acrylics.
An outdoor setting is best, and laying out large sheets of cardboard under the paper sheets is helpful.
Standing, children can hold a disposable paint cup in one hand and a large paintbrush in the other, flinging or splattering the paint onto the paper.
9. Mud Painting
Gather mud from outdoors or make your own with sand and water. If desired, add food colours in separate disposable cups.
Children can paint on paper indoors with fingers or large paintbrushes; outdoors, they can paint on sidewalks, rocks or stones.
For some water art with less mess, try these painting with water ideas.
10. Feather Painting
Using slightly thinned tempera, squeeze paints onto paper with droppers and then use feathers to move the paint around.
Feathers may also be used for printing – paint the feather with a brush and then stamp it onto the paper.
11. Bubble Painting
Mix several tablespoons of washable tempera or acrylic paint and a few tablespoons of bubble solution or dish soap in a cup for each colour.
Outdoors (or on a large indoor table), dip a straw or bubble wand in the paint and then blow the bubbles, so they land on the paper.
12. Leaf Printing
Take kids on a walk outside to gather various types of fresh or fallen leaves outdoors.
Paint one entire side of a leaf with a brush then press it down on the paper to make pretty leaf prints. Try a variety of leaves in different shapes and sizes.
You could even make your own wrapping paper with these leaf prints.
13. Toothbrush Painting
Dipped into tempera paints, toothbrushes make great paintbrushes for interesting designs on various paper surfaces.
Use a different toothbrush for each colour so that cleaning in between is not necessary.
14. String Painting
To make a string painting you will need:
- Cotton string or yarn
- Thinned tempera/poster/acrylic paint
- Low aluminium pans for paints
There are various ways to do string painting. Kids can dip the entire length of the string into the paint, and then lower it onto paper to form an interesting pattern.
Another option is to make a fold in the paper and lower the string near the fold. Then, close the paper and pull the string back and forth while holding the surface lightly with the other hand.
15. Marble Painting
Find a cardboard box with sides high enough so the marbles cannot “hop out” during the design process. Using a paint-like tempera, drop the marbles into individual paint cups, pick them up with a plastic spoon, and then drop them into the box.
Get your child to tilt the box from side to side, causing the marble to roll around on the paper and form various patterns. Try these other fun painting with balls ideas too.
I hope you’ll enjoy trying some of these fun painting activities with your toddlers and preschoolers.
Look around the house or classroom. Your eyes may land on another type of interesting tool that could be used with paints and papers for creative and colourful fun!
Get FREE access to Printable Puzzles, Stories, Activity Packs and more!
Sign up and you’ll receive a downloadable set of printable puzzles, games and short stories, as well as the Learning Through Play Activity Pack which includes an entire year of activities for 3 to 6-year-olds.
Access is free forever.
Signing up for a free Grow account is fast and easy and will allow you to bookmark articles to read later, on this website as well as many websites worldwide that use Grow.