Low Mess Process Art For Toddlers

When you think about process art for toddlers, I bet that the first picture you draw in your mind is a scene that looks like a hot mess, including your walls, furniture and your kiddo.

And you either choose painting in a bag as one and only no mess art activity for your little one or do it once in a blue moon, or maybe even give up on the idea of any art activity whatsoever until your little one gets older.

Well, good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

You just need to know a few tips and tricks setting up process art activity for a young toddler.

And when you try them out you’ll be amazed how both you and your kid will enjoy process art.

Now, I have to make fair warming that the process art activity that I’m about to share with you is not 100% mess frees (unlike painting in a zip lock bag) but it’s very low-mess.

When you see your toddler happy, calm and relaxed you wouldn’t mind wiping a few drops of paint here and there.

But there’s more to that.

When you let your child engage in painting activity, there’s more than meets the eye.

Benefits of painting for toddlers

  • Working on their hand-eye-coordination
  • Practicing fine-motor skills
  • Multi-sensorial exposure that includes bright colors, soft paints, various brushes and tools and even new smell of the paint.
  • Boosts creativity.
  • Provides numerous opportunities to incorporate learning (clearning colors, color mixing and anything that you can draw on paper).
  • Painting is a very calming and relaxing activity that helps wind down.
  • Helps build conection between you and your child while doing this activity together.
  • It’s just fun and enjoyable which translates into beautiful memories made together.

Here’s the most basic and the most popular set up that we use in our house.

It consists of a big shallow box and a “mixing” tray with some tools.

As you can see process art hasn’t started yet and somebody’s already started to explore.

If your little one does the same, don’t rush them. Let them play with the box while you can finish your (re-heated) coffee.

Tools & Supplies

Finger paints

Brushes and rollers

A smock

Paper towels

Set Up

When ready to start painting, add dollops of paint all around the box.

I like to use finger paints because they are very smooth, silky and nice to touch.

They don’t dry off quickly.

And let’s be honest,  your toddler is going to use his hands anyways, so providing non-toxic finger paint seems very appropriate.

The tools we use vary but here’s a quick overview.

  • Silicone brushes – I love using silicone brushed for this type of process art as they’re super easy to clean.
  • Paint rollers – your little one will have a lot of fun using the roller.
  • Regular painting brush – just to add a little bit of variety.

And that’s pretty much all it takes for this simple process art in a box.

So here are my top tips to make this a really low mess activity.

  1. Make sure you use a big shallow box. Small box will not do the trick and your toddler will be tempted to take the art quite literally “outside the box”. Well, they’ll attempt to do that even with the biggest box you can find, and that’s where my other tip comes in.
  2. Set clear expectation and try to get your toddler’s “yes” to following the rules.
    Also let them know that the activity will be finished immediately if they take the paint outside the box. It’s also a good practice to give a few reminders during the activity that Paint should stay inside the box.
  3. For any unintentional paint drops or in case your toddler would want to clean their hands have paper towels or dump cloth handy.
  4. Use finger paints as they don’t stain your kiddo and are toddler safe.
  5. Lastly, stay true to the rules you’ve sent in the beginning. If you see your toddler art is getting out of control either give a short notice or stop the activity right away.

Hope you find this helpful.

If you do try this simple process art with your toddler I’d love to heat how it goes!

Just leave a comment below.

Happy Playing!

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