With the Kids

Helpful Tips for Watercoloring with Kids

Painting can be a very messy craft. But as my kids LOVE to paint, I try my best to be prepared. Here are a few quick and easy things I do to keep organized when painting with my kids.

1. Storing your watercolor paints. I keep my watercolors and my plastic tablecloth in the same zip bag. Then it’s all ready to go the next time they want to paint. A hard plastic container with a lid would work as great storage as well.

2. Set it all up before you start. I like to get the table all set with the tablecloth, paints, water cups, and paper all on the table before I let my kids sit down. I just feel a little more organized and in control if I have it all set up ready to go. I also talk to my kids before they start and remind them about the water cups and to try their best to watch out for spilling.

3. Wear protective clothing. I have some old t-shirts that I put my kids in as they paint. Mine are just plain ol’ t-shirts, but using button-up shirts placed on backwards work great too. Then once they are done, I just toss the shirts into the washing room.

4. What to do when paint colors get mixed. As my kids are getting older, they are much better at washing out their paint brush in between paint colors. But my little 2 year old is still learning, and as you can see, these paints are all mixed. To wash them out, you can run the whole paint container under the faucet, then dry it with a paper towel. Or if you don’t want to deal with more water, I simply use a wet wipe on each oval of paint and wipe the mixed colors away. It works great.

What tips and tricks do you have when painting with kids?


  1. I know this is an old post, but I just had to add about the fun my 4 year old had with watercolors.

    I told her to get ready for her bath, I then gave her watercolors, a cup with water, and a bunch of brushes and let her have at the dry tub. It was a giant canvas which quickly cleaned up with her bath that followed.

    Saw this idea originally on pinterest. Within 3 minutes of seeing the idea, my kiddo was doing it! It was a bath night and she was bugging her sister, so I separated them by letting her go paint.

  2. As a Preschool teacher I use empty yoplait yogurt cups for the water…The ones with the fat base bottm and then it tapers up with a little lip. I take a fat sharpie and make a “fill to line”. My 3 year olds can do all of this by themselves! Everything goes in 1 basket on the shelf low for them!!!:)

  3. Another quick tip I do: I take out the black oval of paint from my watercolors. My kids seem to always use that black and their pictures turn out muddled. It seems to work for us!

  4. L Mama – That’s great. I wouldn’t either.

    Amy – Yes, sturdy glasses or shallow dish, so perfect.

    L Christensen – I love the idea for a cup with a hole at the top, perfect spot for a brush to just fit!!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. To hold the water, I like to use a cup with a lid that is meant for a straw. I cut the straw hole just a little bigger so my child can get his brush in and out easily. It still can spill, but doesn’t spill nearly as much as an open cup.

  6. I like using very heavy, sturdy glasses for holding their rinse water. Mugs work great, or anything with a heavy wide bottom. This way it is MUCH harder to spill. Yay! Another idea is to use a very shallow dish (such as a loaf pan or pie plate), and then it’s nearly impossible to spill!

  7. Deanna – Such great ideas. I love the idea for gift wrap. And how fun that your older child is taking it to a whole new level! Thanks for sharing.

    Angee – same to you! I love your tip for the no-slip surface! Perfect!

  8. My tip? I found that when kids paint, their pictures slide all over the place. So, I slap a piece of tape on the top or back to keep it in place. No more sliding!

  9. I have a 3 yr old who colors and paints like there is no tomorrow! I have an old kids workbook with drawings on each page and I hand her those sheets to color or paint – she goes through them so fast and right now she is more about quantity thatn quality.

    Also- I save paper- like from Amazon pkgs etc for them to paint on. Once dry it makes great gift wrap. At a recent wedding everyone knew which pkg was ours! And I have already started wrapping xmas gifts with it.

    Last tip is for older kids- my 12 yr old loves painting bamboo (with black watercolor paint) so we looked on youtube and found other asian painting techniques for him to try- he has now mastered the koi fish and is trying to master bamboo bushes.

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