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Burning Daylight: Painting Projects for Children

By Melissa Summers

I decided to suck it up, stop being as anally retentive and try painting with my kids this week. Even though I believe painting is against my religion, even though I believe painting is why God invented preschool, even though I am actually incredibly anally retentive. I sucked it up, covered the kitchen bar in white paper and plowed forward.

Our first project involved painting with watered down paint and straws. Using our breath to blow the paint across the page making interesting patterns and color combinations. We had a couple of friends over to join us in this activity and everyone had a great time, I even joined in. Which is progress for the mother who plays Barbies by saying “Hi, how are you?” over and over and over. I’m not good with ‘playing’.

Then, the trouble started as we moved onto the Fireworks Painting Technique. Scrumdilly made this technique look so simple. My guinea pigs two 8 year olds and two 6 year olds, were unable to lightly drip the paint from their cupcake liner papers.

I started to mentally talk myself through this apparent disaster, “Art is messy! Art is messy!” and when that failed I started to mentally panic: “I’m selling my house and there is paint on my hardwood floors and my freshly painted walls and my newly white cabinet doors and also all over the children. Is this washable paint? Why didn’t I get washable paint? Abort! Abort! Abort!”

But there was no getting out of it, especially not before the glitter was dumped everywhere.
In a word, this was a disaster, the kids were frustrated and it was messy. If we were to do this again, because I become a masochist, I’d use thinner paint or put the paint in something easier to drop paint from in smaller amounts. I would also buy WASHABLE paint because…..duh.

At least some of the kids, were really pleased with their results.
But we survived and moved on to repurposing our art. First we made a bookmark. So far, so good.

First we cut out our contact paper to the size of our bookmark.
Then we sandwiched our bookmark between two sheets of the contact paper, tied a ribbon on the top and voila! Bookmark.
Maddie had a good idea as we finished, “It would be good to write your favorite book on the back or a line from your favorite story.”

Next we worked on making our box from our straw art. This was not successful with the kids who got frustrated quickly and left me to do the whole thing by myself. So I followed the directions and ended up with a lovely box.

Then I filled it with pomegranates because, my goodness it’s hard to find a place to keep your pomegranates.

The kids were then suddenly interested in my box and stole it to store their Pokemon cards.

I’ll be honest, after the lack of interest in the box making, we didn’t even attempt the envelope because I knew that would be all mine to do anyway which sort of isn’t the point of “doing crafts together”.

I think I’ve also accepted I’m unfit for painting with my kids, especially considering it probably burned only about an hour. An hour and a half if you count the trip to the craft store we took. If you want to count the time I spent cleaning up after it, then make that two and a half hours. We’ll have to come up with a less messy craft for next week.

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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laughing mommy

Please don’t make me paint with my kids. I’m getting hives thinking about cleaning up that mess.


Painting is one of my favorite activities to do with our three year old daughter. I go buy a few of those wooden bird houses when they are on sale at a craft store, then we paint them. I put paper all over the table, then we only use regualar water based paint and small brushes. It turns out ok. Try just painting a wooden birdhouse or something like that. The craft store by us sells little wooden letters. We painted her name, then hung them on her wall. Watering down the paint, using straws, cupcake holders, and such…that’s ambitious… Read more »


I haven’t attempted paint yet. I’m thinking the first attempt will be outside, in the empty kiddie pool with washable paint. 😉 Then I can just hose her down afterwards.


I did the sidewalk painting with my nephews last weekend. Instead of using food coloring we used some washable paint. My sister vetoed food coloring because of the stain factor. The paint worked well and looked awesome when dry.
Tip: Don’t combine all the water/cornstarch cups first and then add the color one by one. The longer the unmixed water/cornstarch cup sits the harder it is to mix.
You are a brave woman to combine paint, straws and glitter in one sitting.

Erica Zamora

I’m with the other Erika, painting and glitter and all manner of messy fun happen exclusivly outside for our family. In the winter I put a space heater in the garage. I’m that mom.
I have to say that I have really enjoyed letting the kids use oil paints on pre-stretched canvased, as when they dry they are ready for the wall. Great gifts have come from this project. And all of them painted outside.


Perhaps I should have a disclaimer to try only one project at a time? 🙂 You were very brave to do so many at one time. AND, you reminded me to write out that the box making was intended for parents, not kidlets..oops! Sometimes my thoughts move faster than I type. Your pictures are lovely and I think they did a masterful job with the blobs abd cupcake liners. Tomorrow’s project is another fun one but definitely for outdoors or in the tub. Thank You for trying them out and please don’t run away. P.S. art IS messy. This week… Read more »


No no no. The ideas are all great the mess is totally my own psychosis rearing it’s head.


Seriously though, I DID mean to write that the box was for big people…my brain is always doing that to me! 🙂
(and I really do love, love, love your pictures here!)
Have a heppy, happy Wednesday!