Over the years I have been told repeatedly by classroom teachers how brave I am. Not because I’m a ninja, but because I can organize groups of fifty elementary school aged children while creating messy masterpieces. Painting with a 1 year old or 2 year old is very different and presents far more challenges than with a group 20 five year olds-seriously.
1. Cover the chair they’re sitting in with a garbage bag, even if it’s a highchair. The dyes in the paint could leave a permanent stain on the fabric or plastic.
2. Tiny paintbrushes or Q-tips. Tiny amounts of paint being splattered and dropped is everywhere is a lot easier to clean than large amounts of drippy paint.
3. Non-toxic only. If the paint is store bought there should be an AP label. I have had a few students taste the paint over the years and even though it’s non-toxic, I sent them to the nurse just to be safe. She had them gargle with water and sent them back to class. If you want to be extra safe try my homemade, food safe paint recipe.
4. Make a DIY garbage bag smock. Turn the garbage bag upside down, cut a hole at the top for the head and two at the sides for the arms. It will cover them top to toe and it’s reusable.
5. I recommend putting some kraft paper on the floor for spills and on the table. Or wrap plastic wrap around the highchair table.
6. When they are finished, take away the supplies first and the smock last.
7. Baby wipes work best for cleaning up the kiddos or a bath.
8. Stain removers that have worked well for me are Oxyclean, Honest (got out Sharpie), and good old baking soda/vinegar.
9. Little ones don’t know to cover the whole page, and maybe parts of the page are out of reach for them. Either point out where else on the paper they can paint or turn the painting for them. You want to do this before they paint over and over in the same spot for so long they wear a hole through their painting.
10. Turn their paintings into something special: a garland, cut out repetitive shapes and make a Warhol inspired work of art, scrapbook with it, the possibilities are endless!