Do you have a child in your program that loves to play colour and paint?

There are so many opportunities for development and learning, exploration and self-expression, fun and creativity when children are colouring and painting.

Let’s explore different play extensions that build on this interest and expand their knowledge and experience with colouring and painting.

  • Make leaf and/or flower rubbings. Children can sort, compare and contrast different patterns, shapes, colours and sizes. 
  • Place different items that can sink or float in paint and explore the ideas of heavy/light, sinking/floating. (ie: colorful leaves, feathers, rocks, fabric, toys, blocks, foam and sticks) Compare and contrast what sinks and floats in water – do the same things that float in water also float in paint? Talk about what is different and why. 
  • Create new colours by mixing different colours together.
  • Add baking soda to paint.
  • Discover what happens when you place a white flower in a jar of coloured water. Over a period of time the white flowers will absorb the water and change the colour of the petals! (This can also be done with celery sticks.)
  • Make a volcano out of paper mache and paint it. (You can also make it “erupt” by mixing jello powder or food colouring with baking soda and vinegar)
  • Pour oil and water into a jar and encourage the children to use an eyedropper to add drops of colour. 
  • Try this Cool Colour Changing Milk Science Experiment
  • Bring a bucket of water and big paint brushes outside on a hot day and encourage the children to “paint” the pavement, sidewalk, or side of a hot building. Children will be able to see the water (ie: their painting) quickly evaporate in the heat of the sun. It’s an opportunity to talk about the science of evaporation while the children paint with water (and stay cool). They can paint the same space over and over again because the sun keeps drying up their art! 
  • Put water and a little bit of paint in a spray bottle and try spray painting snow (this can be one outside, or inside in a sensory table or bins) What happens when you use cold water? Is it different than if you use warm water? 

  • Set up an art studio where children can paint or draw – you can try this with lots of different materials! (ie: watercolour paint, chalk, pastels, charcoal, pencils, markers, paint, mud). 
  • Get creative and try different kinds of surfaces for painting and creating! It might literally be a blank canvas on an easel, but they can also draw, paint, and sculpt onwalls, floors, tables and easels.
  • Add accessories and materials to inspire and bring out children’s creativity. 
  • Display art work and pictures from different cultures.
  • Drape fabric from ceiling in different colours make it inviting. 
  • Set up art supplies and make and art shop, or materials to make a paint store. Display paint charts, containers , brushes that can be used. Add natural materials, colours and supplies from other cultures.
  • Set up a studio with a variety of painting and pictures from other cultures, label in variety of languages . Add a simple story or explanation for each picture.
  • Set up mirrors and some paint. Encourage children to look in the mirror and make different faces or act in different ways (ie: surprised, happy, sad, angry, sleepy, etc.), and then they can paint or use dry erase markers to draw their face the way they see it on the mirror.
  • Encourage children to sort and classify different materials by colors, shapes and sizes.
  • Explain how colors are made and how to mix different colours from the primary colours – blue, yellow, and red.
  • Talk about how painting and colouring makes us feel and we can express ourselves through art. Encourage children to try it!
  • Play different kinds of music from around the world and talk with children about how the music feels, and what colours they think about when they hear the music. Then encourage children to paint!
  • Tell stories about famous creative people and show pictures of their work. Can you find any child artsts that you can share with the children? Are there artists from their home countries that you can tell them about?  
  • Talk about differences and similarities between paintings and colours, and how they make us feel. 
  • Include books and pictures of art from other cultures. Have discussions with children about what they notice.
  • Display art from different cultures and provide diverse materials for children to explore and use.
  • Learn about artists who use their body differently to create their art. (ie: some paint with their feet or mouth). Provide opportunities for the children to try painting in different ways and with different body parts (ie:use one hand to paint, or paint blind folded).
  • Provide opportunities for children to learn about different kinds of art, and different perceptions of art. What do they think is art? What do others consider to be artful? 
  • Show children pictures of body art around the world (ie: henna, tattoos) and allow children to use washable paint to create their own body art. Children can make their own stencils and use body paint to paint patterns on hands or feet. 


  • Talk to the families about the activities planned. Ask about their favourite creative activities. Do they paint or draw? Or maybe they create art using fabric or knitting? Find out who is creative and if they have any pictures they’d like to share.
  • Talk to families of about different ways they can encourage the children to be creative, and what materials can be used around their home.
  • Encourage the family to create something together.


  • Visit local museums, art galleries and shops and encourage families to explore art in the community.
  • Talk about places in the community that may display art work like libraries, government buildings, and museums.
  • Invite artists from the community to share with the children.
  • Display beautiful pictures from your community and around the world (ie:in Newfoundland the houses are very colorful.)
  • Go for nature walk to collect sticks and flower to paint.
  • Bring a big bucket of water and big paint brushes and/or sponges outside on a hot day and encourage the children to “paint” the pavement, sidewalk, or side of a hot building. Children will be able to see the water (ie: their painting) quickly evaporate in the heat of the sun, so they can paint the same space over and over again!
  • Play a jumping on colours game. Place coloured mats, carpet or paper tiles on the floor and encourage children to jump from colour to colour. You can call out different colours for them to find, or the children can simply identify each colour as they land on it.  
  • Play red light, green light with different ways of moving and playing (ie:cars, jumping jacks, running.)
  • Dance with coloured scarves.
  • Paint dance! Cover the walls or floor with paper and put on some music the children love. Encourage them to paint and dance (You might need to cover the ground with a drop sheet if you’re doing this activity indoors).
  • Put a roll of paper on the floor and take off your shoes and socks! Allow the children to paint the bottom of their feet (or step in a pie tin of paint) and then walk across the paper. You can talk about how the paint feels, how their footprints look, differences and similarities.
  • Use variety of tools to paint, draw and color You can try pens, pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk and pastels, paintbrushes, finger painting, toothbrushes, combs, sponges, clothes pins with pom poms. The possibiliities are endless! 
  • Use different size pens, pencils and chalk to color.
  • Create a collage from a variety of materials for the children to practice cutting with scissors and glueing.
  • Create a discovery box by adding colored scarves, tied to each other and placed into a box. As the children pull on the scarves, they can talk about the colours they see.
  • Set up mirrors side-by-side with some paint or dry erase markers. Encourage children to look in the mirror and make different faces or act in different ways (ie: surprised, happy, sad, angry etc) Then the children can paint their face the way they see it on the mirror. When they are done, you can transfer the paint onto a paper if they’d like, or take a picture of what they’ve painted. (Note: this can also be done with a partner using clear plastic “windows” where one child makes a face and the other child paints their friend’s face as they see it through the window)
  • Encourage children to tell you about what they’re making in your program. (ie: their thoughts, why they chose those colours, how it makes them feel)
  • When children are upset, encourage them to colour or paint. The repetitive motions and opportunity for self-expression can relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Ice cube painting. Freeze coloured water in ice cube trays. (You can also add popsicle sticks if the children would prefer a “handle”). Once frozen, remove the cubles and allow the children to paint. This activity can be done indoors or outdoors. You can expand on this idea by adding turmeric, coffee, coca power, cinnamon to water and freeze instead of paint.
  • Use old markers in the snow. The water from the snow with draw out the remaining color of the old markers. (A spray bottle filled with water and a bit of paint is also fun in the snow!)
  • Make shiny condensed milk paint together. All you need is food coloring, condensed milk and containers. Mix together condensed milk and food coloring in a container, and encourage the children to paint. Wait for the paint to dry and you’ll notice the shine!
  • Turn the chair over and place plastic wrap around the legs and let the children paint on the plastic wrap. 
  • Add epsom salt to paint to give a different texture or add smells. Children can even use theirfingers to paint and feel the texture of the epsom salt.
  • Make paint with different vegetables like beets, red cabbage, carrots to paint. Blend or grate the vegetables and squeeze the juice out and allow the children to paint with the vegetable juice. The children can take part in preparing the mixture before painting.
  • Use paper towel rolls to paint with! Simply dip the bottom cirlce of the paper towel roll into different coloured paints to make circle imprints.
  • Place elastic bands on rolling pins for children who do not want to get their hands dirty. The children can roll the pins in the paint and them roll onto the paper to create desired patterns
  • Make a nature rain stick. Collect different items from nature (ie: sticks, leaves, pine cones, flowers) to create a  rain stick. 
  • Provide a variety of materials like tissue paper, fabric, boxes, and pipe cleaners, and encourage children to get creative!  They might decide to make flowers, butterflies, bugs, or something entirely different.
  • Provide a variety of jars, fabric, bags and boxes, with  colourful accessories from different cultures. (ie: buttons, beads, ribbons flowers, leaves feathers and glitter)
  • Try using bubble wrap to paint with or on. 
  • Trace body parts on paper, and then cut out them out and paint!
  • Try upside down painting! Attach paper to the bottom of the table. The children then lie on their back to color on the paper attached under the table. (For any children that don’t want to go under the table, you can also use turn a chair over and attach paper so they can sit or stand to color on the chair.)
  • Wrap fabric or roll of paper  on the wall and allow the children to hand paint it.
  • Try putting paint in a salad spinner to create a variety of patterns. Cut out paper, place in salad spinner, add a variety of color paint and spin, Remove and see the patterns. The more paint colors added and the more you spin you will see unusual patterns. (This can be done on a variety of paper from napkins to fabric.)

  1. Wet–Dry
  2. Hard–soft
  3. Paint 
  4. Glue
  5. Collage
  6. Brush–sponge
  7. Liquid
  8. Hard–soft
  9. oil–water
  10. Textures
  11. Over–under
  12. Top–below
  13. Count numbers
  14. Light–heavy
  15. Same–different
  16. Colors in different languages

Different material ideas:

  • Brushes of all sizes and shapes
  • Tooth brushes and toothpaste
  • Stencils
  • Sponges of different sizes and shapes
  • Coloring pencils, markers of all sizes and shapes
  • Crayons large and small
  • Chalk (different sizes and colours)
  • Fabric paint and a variety of fabric 
  • Paper of different textures (ie: magazines, newspaper, butcher paper, finger paint paper, paper towel rolls, boxes)
  • Brushes, paint rollers, spray bottles, tooth brushes (Different sizes and shapes)
  • Different kinds of paint (ie: powder, liquid paint, watercolours finger paint)
  • A variety of ingredients to add to paint (ie: pudding, jello, cornstarch, salt, epsom salt, sugar, cinnamon, turmeric, seeds)
  • Nature to paint with and add to art (ie: sticks, flowers, leaves, rocks, herbs, pieces of wood, etc.) 
  • Dry erase and/or chalk boards, easels and/or mirrors 
  • Masking tape, elastic bands, rolling pins, cookies cutters
  • Food coloring, fabric dyes, vegetable dye
  • Kitchen items and utensils (ie: forks, spoons, pots and pans, scrubs, potato masher, salad spinner)
  • Boxes, wooden blocks, old furniture 
  • Rice, pasta, beans, straws, cotton balls, q- tips
  • Picture frames, cookie cutters
  • Water, paint brushes and buckets (for on a hot day outside!)
  • Spray bottles with paint and water in them (to spray paint on snow, sidewalk or fence)
  • Ensure water source is accessible to the children. 
  • Have designated creative area. 
  • Ensure there is a place to store and display children art work.
  • Depending on the type of floor, you may want to cover it with something easy to clean.