Include Painting in Your Preschool Lesson Plans

Kids Painting


Five Days of Painting Ideas for Preschoolers

Here are five painting activities for children that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, but are wonderful as preschool art projects. Include these painting ideas in your preschool lesson plans as one week of painting a month or as one day a week for five weeks. Parents or teachers can reuse these basic ideas over and over again, month after month, with slight variation. Begin each project with preparation, covering the child with a large plastic apron or an old t-shirt and the paint area with something like newspaper. Have wet cloths or paper towels ready for cleanup. Always use nontoxic, washable paints for preschoolers and young children.

Blob Painting

Pretty Pictures

This is just about the easiest way to begin teaching a child to use a paintbrush. Begin by preparing your area and your child. Provide thick brushes and a variety of paint colors. Ideally, one paint brush may be put in each paint color to avoid mixing colors. Without rinse water on the table the risk of water being tipped is eliminated. For toddlers, it may work best to only offer one color at a time. The best paper to use is cardstock from your office or computer store. Crease each sheet in half before beginning. Contrasting colors look great together: white and black, purple and yellow, green and red, blue and orange. A softer, less dramatic picture would include complimentary colors: blue and green and yellow, red and blue and purple, red and orange and yellow. As soon as a child uses a color, have him/her fold the creased paper in half, then, reopen and paint again, repeating.

Kids Painting

String painting is another easy preschool project. The best paper is card stock paper from an office or computer store. Each picture will require two sheets of paper. Cut pieces of string about as long as the paper. Put the string into nontoxic, washable paint containers leaving about an inch out of the paint. Holding the paint-free end of the string, use the hard end of a paintbrush to push the string into the container so that the entire, immersed string is covered in paint. You can hold the string and your preschooler can poke into the paint or vice versa. Have the child slowly pull a string from the jar and lay it onto the paper. Strings can be curled. Make sure the dry end is off an edge of the paper. When all of the strings are on the paper, place a second sheet of card paper on top of the string sheet. A large book, like a phone book, can be placed on the top sheet (or press with your hand). Slowly, pull out each string. As the strings are pulled out, a beautiful picture is created on each sheet.

Print Painting

Painting without Brushes

Print painting is an easy way to create a simple picture that looks gorgeous. Prepare by finding household objects, like Legos, letter blocks, or small cookie cutters. Paint printing can be done on any type of paper. Be sure to have plenty of wet towels available to wipe stampers before changing colors. Individual paint colors are thickly painted onto a flat surface, like newspaper or card paper. Have your children put their stamper onto a color, then, stamp onto the picture paper, then, repeat. This works best if your child uses one color at a time.

Finger Paint


Using Our Hands

Let's not forget an old favorite: finger paint. Yes, it is possible to begin children as young as three in finger painting. Explain to your children that they must stay in their chairs when they are finished. Have an old, wet towel or lots of wet and dry paper towels ready to wipe hands, or pre-train them to hold their hands up as you pull out each chair and escort them to the bathroom. Practice before you bring out the paint. Put them in paint gear and cover the table. Smooth card stock paper or shiny, thick paper works well for finger paints. Use colors that compliment each other rather than contrast. Use red-purple-blue or green-blue-yellow, or orange-red-yellow. White can go with any of these. (Combining all colors turns the picture gray.) If you are trying to do theme colors, like red and green, make sure the kids know to keep the colors separate on the paper.

Sidewalk Painting

Sidewalk painting is a great way to include a preschool art project with fresh air and sunshine. Make sure the kids have on old clothing--even shoes can end up with paint stains. Your sidewalk paints should be nontoxic and washable and designed for use as sidewalk paint. A sidewalk paint kit will include large brushes, paint, and a tray. Make sure children have on paint-stainable clothes, including shoes. I found that they could understand how to paint better if I painted a simple picture first of something like a flower. Remind them that brush strokes go in one direction, and that they can't make a mistake. This should be a fun, expressive painting activity.

Watercolor Painting

Painting Rocks


Monthly Preschool Projects

There are lots of ways you can repeat these activities from month to month and have them look like new projects. The repetition will help the children to develop skill in each of these types of painting activities. Here are different things you can do each month.

  1. Blob Painting: make a blob butterfly, use theme colors each month (shades of blue, shades of orange), use holiday or seasonal colors each month (pastels in spring, red, white, and blue for 4th of July), draw a design or character on the dried blob, use as a holiday card.
  2. String Painting: use the sheets as a book cover, do different designs (circles, stripes), color themes, holiday themes, use yarn, glue other fabrics to it, let string dry onto paint.
  3. Print Painting: use different materials to print (sponge, toy car tracks, a leaf), use black paper and white or yellow paint (sponge clouds, stars), holiday cookie cutters (Easter eggs, clovers), cut out printed design and paste to construction paper, draw on or color inside each print.
  4. Finger Painting: finger paint contrasting colors over dried painting, theme colors, new designs, squares or faces or lines.
  5. Outdoor Painting: teach an art design (circles, faces, flowers), take photos of work to hang, paint something else outside (swing set, boxes, plastic lawn furniture), combine with chalk art, paint rocks.

Children love to express themselves. Let them learn to do that in a constructive way, by painting!

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Comments 4 comments

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Beverly, those are all great painting ideas for preschool kids to do, and they will help bring out and form all those kids creative abilities within them .

Awesome and vote up !!!

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Ashlea B 5 years ago

I'm sure my almost 4 year old daughter would love these painting projects. She paints at her Grandma's, and loves it. It's time for me to invest in some good painting gear here. Thanks for the ideas!

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randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This is such a great resource for all early childhood teachers. Thank you!

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DonnaCosmato 5 years ago from USA

These are excellent age appropriate activities and they would certainly encourage exploration and experimentation. They also include some great multisensory opportunities but they are not labor intensive for a teacher to prep and teach. I voted this up and useful...good job!

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