Balloon and cotton bud prints

Painting is a frequently asked for activity in my house, but can turn into a 5 minute activity with a 20 minute clean up: the favourite part for my boys is squeezing paint out of the bottles and mixing it together; after that they can lose interest pretty quickly.

Recently we tried making prints with balloons and cotton buds.

The first thing they both instinctively did was try to paint on the balloon by dipping the cotton bud into the paint. I showed them that they could also dip the balloon straight in and splodge it onto paper. Zeph’s splodges quickly turned into one big swirled splodge and then he tried making patterns on the painty plate using his cotton buds. Elly made some splodge and then tried to pop his balloon. Meanwhile I made some pretty patterns.


Marble painting

A classic minimal-mess painting activity! We used marbles (!) a click-seal food storage box, yogurt pots for coating our marbles in paint and spoons for scooping them into the box.

I’ve tried this a few times before with Zeph but until now he hasn’t been super interested. This time round he got a lot of joy from shaking the box around, and Elly couldn’t wait to take a turn either – probably because big brother was having so much fun.

Here’s how we did it:

1 – Squeeze paint into the yogurt pots – for Elly, this is the best part, sometimes the only part, of any painting activity. It used to be the same for Zeph, but at 4, he has started to enjoy the actual painting bit too. Even when the painting is not on himself.

2 – Drop marbles into the paint.

3 – Put a sheet of paper in the bottom of your box.


4 – Use a spoon to cover the marble in paint and scoop it into your box.


6 – Open up to see what you made.

Here are our first two, done one after another using the same marbles and without adding any extra paint. Lots of red – Zeph’s favourite colour! I love using art like this to cut out shapes and stick on homemade cards or use as gift labels.

This is my favourite one – Elly shook the box mostly on it’s side which meant the paint stayed more towards the bottom of the paper.


For thisĀ one we tried mixing pom poms with the marbles… Zeph insisted we still use at least some marbles, so the effect isn’t all that different the way it came out in the end.

20180208_1947551550704925.jpgAnd finally, Zeph tried shaking the marbles in an empty box before taking them out and then putting the paper in on top of the paint. I guess he got this idea because we’ve done printing style paining things before. He actually got into the box and stepped all over the paper to get the paint onto it.

I should add a caution though… despite its potential to be a minimal-mess activity, if your kids are anything like mine, it will probably end up messy anyway.