With the Kids

Play While You Paint


You might have noticed by now that I am way into mixing art time with playtime. My boys loved this technique: using a (washable) toy to apply paint to paper. We used some old toy cars to roll in paint and then make a fun painting. Another bonus: using unusual paint brushes makes unique paintings.


Project Materials:

  • A car, or other washable toy
  • Washable paint
  • Paper
  • Paint brush (optional)
  • Palette of some sort (we used a plate)

To do:

Apply paint (or let child do it! My 2 year old loves this part) to palette. Roll, dip, or otherwise put toy in paint. Let kid use toy on paper!


It really is as simple as that. Use whatever toys you find in your toy box that can easily be cleaned or washed. You can also experiment with non-toy “brushes” from household items like cotton balls, sponges, utensils, or whatever odds and ends you find in your junk drawer.

Heather Mann is a regular contributor at Make and Takes. She’s is the mother of two boys under age 3, and another boy on the way. She publishes Dollar Store Crafts, a daily blog devoted to hip crafting at dollar store prices, CROQ Zine, a print magazine devoted to hip crafting, and also CraftFail, a community blog that encourages crafters to share their not-so-successful craft attempts.


  1. oops. ha! i posted my comment under the wrong idea. this was meant for the toast w/food coloring and milk. i’m still laughing at myself…

  2. I can’t really believe all the negative comments. As a mom, behaviorist and former preschool teacher, I think this is a fabulous activity. To increase the value, kids can help to make bread. And while white bread is deemed as unhealthy, I’m okay with it. Sorry, but there’s nothing like fresh-baked warm bread (white or wheat)that I’ve made that morning with my children. And yes, I slather it in homemade butter. My kids have licked toilets, shared toys with dogs and put all sorts of gross things in their mouths…some white bread and food coloring isn’t going to hurt them. Obesity? I’d understand that comment if you said you were feeding your children boxes of Poptarts and cans of frosting for breakfast…daily.
    Thanks for the great activity idea. Maybe I’ll do it with food coloring and refined white sugar.

  3. Love it! My little munchkins are only 9 months but this would be a GREAT way to introduce them to art when they’re ready! I can’t imagine how exciting this would be for them if their toys were dipped in paint…Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. This is one of our all-time favorite activities!!!! I like to choose a couple of cars with different wheel designs so the kids can make different tracks. We’ve done these on big construction paper, and then laminated them–perfect for kid placemats for friends and cousins!

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