Preschool painting ideas can be as simple as paint, paper, and a brush. But try thinking outside the box by painting with anything BUT a paintbrush! Increase the fun and student engagement at the art center by using things like a balloon, flower, or toothbrush to apply paint to paper. The preschoolers won’t be able to resist using different objects to explore paint!
There are so many ways to paint without paintbrushes. It only takes a look in the supply cupboard or discount store to find perfect “paintbrushes” to add excitement to the art table.
Process Art Without Paintbrushes
Process art is an easy way to develop a preschooler’s creativity and independence. The NAEYC characterizes process art as having:
- no step-by-step instructions
- no sample for the students to follow
- no right or wrong way to explore or create
- the outcome be unique and original
- a relaxing and calming experience
Exploring different ways to use paint is a fantastic way to encourage exploration and creativity. It also gives different fine motor muscles a good workout. Traditional paintbrushes are used with a side-to-side or single-direction stroke. But what happens when a student is asked to paint with a lego block? A gift bow? Because the students haven’t done this, they are more willing to explore different motions, which makes their hands stronger as well!
Learn about different artist’s mediums here…
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Prepping for Fun Preschool Painting Ideas
Before the preschool painting ideas come to life, gather supplies to make the activities run smoothly. Assemble these items, add the desired “paintbrush,” and watch the fun begin.
- Paint smocks
- Table cover
- A place to dry the artwork
- Any “paintbrushes” like balloons, gift bows, toy cars, blocks, flowers, or toothbrushes
Once these things are ready to go, watch the creativity begin when children learn to paint with anything BUT a paintbrush! Here are 10 examples for you:
1. Balloon Prints
Painting with balloons is simple and engaging, and students love it! This easy balloon print art project allows preschoolers to enjoy the process of painting while creating a beautiful project in a unique way. Whether the balloon print art is used to make planets, caterpillars, or even just freeform abstract designs, this process art project is bound to be a favorite in the classroom!
2. Gift Bows
The perfect gift during the holidays is one made with children’s hands. This child-made painted canvas activity is reasonably priced and easy to create.
3. Cars & Trucks
Painting with cars and trucks is an inventive way to get even the most reluctant student to enjoy the experience of painting. Children run the vehicles through the paint and then “drive” over the paper. The different wheels from the vehicles make unique patterns.
Painting with blocks is a quick setup activity. Grab some blocks as the “paintbrushes” and watch the students become little printmakers in no time at all.
Painting with flowers is a great process art activity. It also gives a chance for some hands-on opportunities with nature. It’s a win-win!
Children find the idea of painting with a toothbrush so silly! Use toothbrushes to paint any time of year, especially during Dental Health Awareness Month. Print the outline of a tooth and watch them brush away the cavities!
Connecting with nature is fun for everyone! In the fall, collect acorns on a nature walk with the students. Use these acorns as “paintbrushes” and put any leftovers in the sensory bin for exploring later.
8. Bath Puffs
Bath puffs as paintbrushes add a different texture to painting activities. Children dab, swirl, and swipe their way to fun! Something about using an item they typically use to get clean but are now making a mess with engages them and makes them giggle!
9. Ice Cubes
Put the plastic down on the table for this one! Use popsicle sticks in colorful ice cubes for a chilly sensory experience! Students practice fine motor skills as they grasp the colorful ice cube sticks and create beautiful watercolor paintings.
10. Kwik Stix
This painting option looks like glue sticks, but they are actually paint sticks! With a smooth application and quick dry time, Kwik Stix are a great alternative to paint brushes. Students love how the paint glides on and dries quickly – and teachers love the fact that this painting method requires little to no cleanup!
11. Bubble Wrap
Painting with bubble wrap is more like a printing activity. First, tape bubble wrap to the table. Next, the students paint a picture on the wrap. When the preschooler has finished their painting, show them how they press their paper over the bubble wrap to create a beautiful print. It is so much fun, and they can create multiple images with one round of painting.
12. The Easiest of all Preschool Painting Ideas
Of course, the one brushless activity not talked about yet is…fingers! Finger painting is a staple in the preschool classroom. It provides so many opportunities for the benefits of process art. Mixing colors is always educational and exciting; this activity promotes experimentation and independence.
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Download this “Handy Dandy Art Chart” for quick and easy reference!