Tag Archives: baby paint

Pint-Sized Paint Party

Babies + Paint = Chaos…or just a ton of fun?

I don’t program quite as much as I used to (and particularly not as much as I did during work-from-home pandemic times!). Stepping into management has meant stepping back from day-to-day programming. Most of my programming is filling in when my team are off.

I still enjoy programming, but since presenting programs is now adjacent to my job rather than its primary function, when I do program, I find myself repeating or reimagining programs I’ve done before. One of my favorite programs from both my current and last library has been a Pint-Sized Paint Party.

Pint-Sized Paint Party Logistics

  • Program Length: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Ages: 6 months – 5 years
  • Structure: station-based drop-in
    • 5-8 stations spread out in a large programming room
    • Tarps on the floor under potentially messy areas
    • Mixture of clean and messy stations, though everything is non-toxic and washable
  • Prep: Decent amount of pre-program prep but almost all tasks can be done by volunteers (freezing paint cubes, opening paint bottles, stuffing bags, securing tarps to floor)

Pint-Sized Paint Party Stations

Paint-in-a-Bag Activities (Clean)

Participants could choose from a selection of 3 contained paint activities:

  • Bubble Wrap Pack (5 x 7 clear bubble wrap envelope with cardstock inside)
  • LOVE Canvas Bag (9 x 12 canvas with the letters LOVE taped in painter’s tape, all in a large freezer gallon-sized ziploc bag) Inspired by Eat Teach Laugh Craft.
  • Shaker (circular food container with piece of white cardstock and ping-pong ball inside)

Participants brought their selection to staff or teen volunteers who added drips of up to 3 colors of paint before taping the item shut with packing tape.

Families took their creations home with them to dry – though the LOVE canvases most resembled a long-term keepsake.

Ice Cube Painting (Messy)

Kids selected a frozen paint cube to color on cardstock as the paint melted.

I’ve read blog posts about folks successfully doing this with water and food coloring, but I’ve never got this to work well (the water melts, but it remains clear on paper).

Instead, I froze Crayola Washable Paint in ice cube trays with half-popsicle-sticks inside each cube. (And plenty of written and verbal warnings to caregivers that those cubes are all paint.)

The timing can be mildly tricky – the cubes should come out of the ice cube trays within a few minutes of coming out of the freezer. They can sit in a different container until they are used, but if you leave the melting cubes in the ice cube trays, they will start to stick to the tray and collapse.

Of course, you don’t want to take them out of the freezer too early, or they will melt before a kid can use them.

If you take them out too close to painting, they won’t have melted enough and kids will grow frustrated that nothing is happening.

While that sounds complicated – it really isn’t too bad in practice. Kids liked touching and manipulating the paint with their hands, and the frozen-style kept the mess pretty contained.

Water Painting (Clean – can get wet)

I’ve talked a bit about water painting on this blog – it is so simple and mess-free.

Wall Painting (Clean)

Kids pushed, poked, and explored freezer Ziploc bags with paint inside. They experimented with mixing colors.

Bags were securely taped to a wall or large moveable dry-erase board.

Dot Markers (Clean-ish)

Not quite paint, but close! Kids used dot markers to color pre-printed coloring pages or to make their own creations.

Art Crawl (Messy)

I only ran this station at one library – the station is fun, but the setup takes a lot of time. I used a freestanding baby-gate setup to create an enclosed area layered with tarps on the ground and butcher paper on top. I added piles of paint and various toddler paint toys, and then…I let the babies have fun!

This was supremely messy and required lots of cleaning supplies for caregivers. Not too many caregivers dared to put their babies in the paint pit – but those who did had a blast.

Other Toys

To help keep the youngest ones engaged, I also put out a variety of on-hand brightly colored baby-friendly toys, such as: