Summer’s long days don’t need to be boring! The Indianapolis Art Center summer camp experts shared with us a family art activity you can do from your very own backyard or neighborhood park.
With squirt painting, children use spray bottles or squirt soakers to create big, fun art. You just need some white sheets or paper and some liquid paint. Since this is a somewhat messy activity, it’s best to do this outdoors — which also makes it great for summer!
- Spray Bottles and/or squirt soakers
- A white sheet. white scraps or large paper (The bigger, the better!)
- Any liquid paint that’s safe for kids (You can buy watercolor or tempera paint at any craft store.)
- Warm water
- Clothespins or thumb tacks to hold up the white fabric or paper
- Optional: water balloons, light-colored clothes
What to do:
1. Create a mixture of one tablespoon of paint and two cups of warm water in a jar or one of your spray bottles, then you can shake it.
2. Let the kids help you measure and mix. This art activity can also be a great science and math activity. “Who wants to be a scientist and do an experiment?”
3. Shake your bottles until you don’t see any paint lumps, as these can clog up your nozzle. Do this for each color you want. Using a funnel or pouring carefully, put each color in its own spray bottle or other squirting container.
Take a moment to help your child make a prediction: “What do you think will happen when we add the water to the paint or mix the colors?” Help your little one with words like thick, thin, wet, dry and the names of colors.
Optional addition: Fill your water balloons with water paint as well! Just multiply the recipe by two for more washable paint.
4. Hang your fabric or sheets outside. Make sure you don’t hang them on a surface you want to keep clean. Great options are between two trees, on a chain link fence or on a clothesline.
Variations: Hang up your paper on a fence or put on your light-colored (paint-ready) clothes!
5. Show your child how to squirt the spray bottle or water soaker. Then, just let them have fun with it! If your child is too young to use a squirt bottle, try eye droppers or sponges. This is also a great opportunity to teach them how different colors mix together. Try mixing yellow with red or blue with yellow. Sticking to primary colors (red, yellow, blue) helps your little artist to learn how to make new colors.
Variation: Throw a water balloon at the sheet or (softly) at each other. If you’re wearing light-colored clothes, you can make wearable art while having a colorful water balloon party. Make sure not to aim for anyone’s head! Ask your children for variations, they are so creative at this age. “What else can with do with our paint?” Or “Now that it’s dry, what should we use the sheet/paper for?”
6. After you let the sheet dry, cut it with the scissors. You can create a fringe around the edge, cut it into smaller shapes to make bandannas or anything else you want!
If you get the paint somewhere you don’t want, No worries! Tempera and watercolor paints are water soluble and come out in the wash.
Build Your Child’s Brighter Future!
Want to dive deeper into the creativity your little one? Check out our Play and Learning guidance about Creative Arts for:
- Babies — She might get excited when you hand her a crayon. And she might recoil at the feel of paint on her fingers. No matter the medium, she’s ready to try out her artistic skills.
- One-Year-Olds — Does he have a favorite picture book? One he requests again and again? Does he have another he’d prefer to throw across the room? No worries.
- Two-Year-Olds — He’s proud of the art he makes, and he’s eager to explore it all — finger paints, crayons, glue, glitter…
- Three-Year-Olds — He has better stories to tell about his pictures—not just “this is Mommy, this is me,” but details about the background, what everyone’s doing, and who the picture is for.
- Pre-K-Learners — Now that he can stick with a drawing or model a little longer, your child’s visual art is becoming more complex.