14 Creative Ways to Paint without Brushes

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For your next painting session, challenge your little ones to skip the brushes. Believe it or not, there are countless ways to paint without paintbrushes, using everything from balloons to fly swatters. Your budding artists will get a kick out of these off-the-wall ideas. Keep reading to get inspired.

Pick a Pinecone

For this simple activity, No Time for Flashcards switches a paintbrush for a pinecone. It’s all about experimenting with the materials and seeing what happens when you roll the pinecone around. At the end of it, you’ve got some pretty cool abstract art too!

Let’s Roll

Kids can make their own wrapping paper with this cool idea from Childhood 101. Gather up a bunch of different textured items from around the house to make different prints, like bubble wrap, rubber bands and mesh bags.

Brick by Brick

If you’ve got a LEGO lover in your family, they’ll be obsessed with this craft from Pink Stripey Socks. They can start by making a design out of blocks, then dip it into paint and stamp it on paper. They can also experiment with using individual bricks as stamps—the sky’s the limit.

Bubble Painting

Little ones love bubbles, so it’s not surprising that they’d also get excited about bubble painting. Artful Kids has the scoop on three different ways to paint with bubbles. They’re all fun and easy, and don’t require a ton of supplies.

Freeze Paint

Popsicle painting could be the coolest way to paint… literally. With this simple idea, freezing paint is not only a fun setup process, but it’s pretty easy to clean up, too. It's a perfect project for indoors, but the icy paint also works great on the pavement outside, too! For more info on where to pick up those handy popsicle sticks, head over to Learn with Play at Home.

Crafty Combs

New combs are the best way to get clean, clear pictures, so be sure to hit up the Dollar Store before trying your own version of this bright idea from No Time for Flashcards. The drop and drag skills needed can be tackled by even the tiniest artist, making this a great weekend project—the whole family can join in on the fun!

Splatter with Swatters

Art is definitely not what comes to mind when you imagine a fly swatter. But, with the right supplies (butcher paper, tape, a wall and willing swatters) you’ll see creativity flying around in a few seconds flat. You’ll be Lord of the Flies all afternoon. Zip over to Munchkins and Moms for the how-to.

Cotton Ball Crafts

The family supply of cotton balls will be in major need of replenishment after trying this project, but it’s worth watching your tiniest creator get in on the action. Ideal for toddlers on up through preschool, using clothespins and cotton balls is an excellent lesson in fine motor skills; and it helps the littles keep colors separate! Find out what you can use if you don’t have a muffin pan handy, over at Domestic Mommyhood.

Bust a Few Balloons

Pop Art just got literal. To re-create, add balloons to poster board carnival-style, and let the kids pop to it. While this scores pretty high on the mess-o-meter, the fun factor is also sky high. Want to know how it’s done? Artistic mama Crystal explains how to get just enough paint in every balloon over at Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Create with Condiment Bottles

Squeeze a little more fun out of the afternoon by mixing up a batch of microwave puffy paint. We love the recipe and tutorial perfected by Asia of Fun at Home with Kids. We really love the condiment bottles that are used as both paint container and applicator, rolled into one.

Sponges as Stamps

You’ll be pulling a few out anyways, so why not use sponges to make art? Create shapes and characters, or keep it simple with one style. We can’t get enough of the adorable ode to Very Hungry Caterpillar spotted over at Buggy and Buddy.

Use Baking Tools

There’s nothing cookie cutter about this creative use of everyone’s favorite baking tool. Instant stamp-like prints (perfect for filling in later!), easy handling for little hands and one-step cleanup make this idea from Mama.Papa.Bubba a sweet way to fill an open afternoon.

Use Things that Vroom

Make tracks for the toy box and pull out the biggest, baddest monster truck, right on down to the teeniest, tiniest sports car, and watch your kids zoom their way into creativity (extra points for making vroom noises while they paint!). Cleaning up the tires may take a little more time, but the twofer on artistic and imaginary play can’t be beat. We like how mom Jeanette over at Craftwhack set up her little painter for an afternoon of colorful tread-burning fun.

photo: Gabby Cullen

Fun with Food

They’ll have a whole new appreciation for veggies after this project. First, slice apples, potatoes, bell peppers, celery (you can even use broccoli!) or any other fresh food you find in the fridge. Then, give each kid their “stamp” and watch as they dip and print. You can even talk about why each print looks just so, adding a little science to their art.

—Susie Foresman & Gabby Cullen

 

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