How to Make Homemade Watercolour Paints for Kids

Kids can make their own homemade watercolour paints with 5 common, kitchen ingredients! If your kids love simple science activities and art, then they’ll love making these paints.

The hooligans love to paint so we do a lot of painting here in my daycare.  Actually, I’ve never met a toddler or preschooler who doesn’t love to paint.  There’s something just so lovely about dipping your brush into a fresh pallet, and making big, bold, colourful strokes on a piece of paper.

We use all kinds of paint here in my daycare – acrylics, finger paint, chalk paint, tempra paintliquid watercolours, and solid watercolours.

Now, I don’t know about your kids, but the hooligans can blow through a tray of those store-bought watercolours in a matter of minutes.  They never last for long because the paint trays are so tiny, and the colours get all mixed together as the kids drag their brushes through them.

I’ve found an awesome, inexpensive solution to that problem.

I make trays of homemade watercolour paints for my daycare hooligans.  I’ve since found several recipes for homemade paint, but this is my favourite recipe.  These paints are similar to the hard paint pucks you find at ikea.  You just swish a wet brush over the hard disc of paint, and the colours come alive.

These homemad paint colours don’t get mixed up like they do in a small tray of watercolours because the wells in the muffin tin are deep enough and far enough apart to prevent that from happening.

These homemade watercolours store indefinitely too because there’s nothing in them that can spoil.  When you’re finished painting, simply store the paint pan uncovered, and the water will evaporate, leaving your paint discs in perfect condition for painting next time!


Because these paint discs are so big, they last much longer than the little store-bought ones do.

These paints are not archival quality by any means, but they’re perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who like to make art often.

How to make homemade watercolour paint for kids

 I originally found this recipe over at Pie Birds, a beautiful, crafty blog that you should really check out.

So! How do you make homemade watercolour paints?

It’s easy!  All you need are a few basic pantry ingredients!

ingredients for homemade watercolor paints

The photos that you see in this post are of a double batch.

Recipe for solid homemade watercolour paint discs:

For your convenience, I’ve included Affiliate links in this post.

You’ll find a printable version of this recipe at the bottom of this post page.

Mixing your homemade paints:

  • Mix your baking soda and vinegar together (hello science experiment) and wait for the fizzing to stop.  It’s handy if you mix in a container that has a spout (I used a 2c measuring cup).


making homemade watercolour paint

  • Add the  corn syrup and cornstarch, and mix well until the cornstarch has dissolved.
  • Pour into your containers (double batch of watercolours half-filled all 12 compartments of a mini muffin tin).
  • Now, grab your colours and have some fun!  Stir colour in with a toothpick or popsicle stick and mix well for about a minute.   We used Wilton Icing Gels to colour all but two of our paints; for the red and yellow, we used liquid food colour.


stirring blue homemade watercolour paint

  • For the liquid colours, we added 6 drops to get the intense colour we were looking for.  An extra pinch of cornstarch helped compensate for the extra liquid.
  • Now the hard part:  waiting.  Your watercolour paints have to dry completely.  Apparently this could take up to 2 days, but I left mine beside our gas fireplace overnight, and they were dry in less than 24 hours.

tray of dried homemade watercolour paints

When your watercolours are dry, simply grab a paint brush and some water and test them out!  I couldn’t wait to try ours, and I was so impressed with them when I did.

The paints glide on smoothly, the colours look super.  They’re nicer than any dollar store watercolours we’ve ever used.  They’re a little chalky when they dry, but not as bad dollar store paints that we’ve been using recently.

painting with homemade watercolours

The wells of the muffin tin are also much better than the shallow shallow trays that kids’ watercolours usually comes in.  Our paints will stay much cleaner because the colours wont slosh together every time a child swirls a brush around in them.

hearts painted with homemade watercolors

This post has been edited to add that our homemade watercolour paints have never stained our clothes or hands.  If, however you prefer to protect your child’s clothing when crafting, have a peek at these adorable  Repurposed Denim Aprons that I make from the legs of our old jeans!

re-purposed denim aprons - happy hooligans

Homemade Watercolour Paint Recipe
Kids can make their own homemade watercolour discs with 5 common kitchen ingredients.
  • 4 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp Light or Golden Corn Syrup (known as Karo syrup in some countries)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (known as corn flour in the UK)
  • Food colouring (Wilton Gels produce a more intense colour than liquid food colouring)
  • Mini Muffin Tin (or ice cube tray)
  1. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix baking soda and vinegar, and wait for fizzing to stop
  2. Add corn syrup and corn starch and mix well until corn starch has dissolved.
  3. Pour this thick liquid into the wells of a muffin tin or ice cube tray. (a double batch of watercolours half-filled all 12 compartments of a mini muffin tin).
  4. With a toothpick or popsicle stick, stir in food colouring, and mix well for about a minute.
  5. Set tray in a warm place to set and dry overnight.
  6. When paints are dry to the touch, they're ready to use.

For more easy and affordable art ideas for kids, check out our:

Homemade Liquid Water Colours

Homemade Puffy Paint

Crayon Resist Painting

Art with Melted Crayons

Art with Glue, Salt and Water Colours

Smoosh Art Painting 

Tape Resist Painting

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  1. Valerie @ says

    Very cool! I’m thinking of an idea for this paint, I’ll have a try to see if it works and get back to you. Of course if it does I will post and link back to you :) Thanks for the inspiration! Btw you should link your fabulous aprons in this post, so people can also make those to go with the paint if they want their kid to wear one :)

    • happyhooligans says

      Can’t wait to see what you do with them, Valerie! Thanks for suggesting I link up the denim aprons! I’ve gone and done that. Brilliant! :)

    • happyhooligans says

      I did see some recipes that called for a sugar/water syrup instead of corn syrup, Rika. I’m not sure what measurements you would use, but you could probably google it to find out the equivalent.

      • happyhooligans says

        I’m guessing no, Tracy. I think it might change the consistency, and it might not dry properly. I’d hold out until you get your food colouring. :)

    • Don Jusko says

      I’m a professional and I love this page. Many years ago I taught a Christmas Camp group of 1st graders, we used Easter egg colors. Today they are stuck without the primary colors. This Wilton Set of 8 Icing Colors is great, it includes transparent Yellow, magenta and cyan. Here’s another tip, when I make watercolors I use the best ingredients, honey and gum Arabic is all you need to mix with dry pigment. They are the same pigments you use for cooking, PY100, PR122 & PB15. My paints won’t rub off or turn chalky. Dry them under the refrigerator.

  2. says

    These look amazing! I’ve been looking for paints like these. I have an idea that I tried with tube watercolors and they just shrunk up and cracked, I was so sad! Now I’m going to try it again with these paints. Jackie to the rescue!!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks, Aleacia. Can’t wait to see what you do with yours! Be sure to share with the rest of us! :)

  3. says

    Fabulous! I love watercolor painting and I’ve been doing it with my kids. But, just as you said, they LOVE mixing them together on the tray and getting the colors all muddy. I’m totally going to try this. I think my son will enjoy helping me make the paints, too! Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      Yay! So glad you’re going to try this! I love that you don’t have to worry about how quickly they’ll go through them too, since it’s so inexpensive and easy to whip up another batch!

  4. hisveganmama says

    Wow! So glad to see how stunning they turned out on paper. Love stuff that comes right from the pantry!

  5. says

    I can’t wait to make these!!! They turned out so colorful! As soon as I saw your post on FB last night I was like oh I am soooo making those! haha

  6. Megan @ CoffeeCupsandCrayons says

    Very cool! We are definitely going to try this too! FBing and tweeting for anyone who hasn’t see this yet.

  7. says

    What a fun and easy recipe. Thanks so much for sharing this. I am excited to make these as soon as I can! Water coloring paint is so magical and I bet it is even better when you make your own paints!

  8. veronica says

    These are great. How long do they last? If I made a batch for my kiddos would it last through a entire project? (meaning 3 uses for 45 minutes each?)


    • happyhooligans says

      I’m not sure they’d last that long, if you were actually painting for a whole 2-plus hours. Our first batch lasted over a week with the kids painting every day for a little bit here and there. I’ve just made a second batch recently, and 2 girls went through the purple one in one sitting. They were both two years old though, and just kept adding water to it with their paintbrushes, and every single thing they painted that day was purple. lol If your kids are older, and can control the amount of water they use a bit better, they would probably last.

  9. Monica Talley says

    This is something I need to try. I love watercolours in my classroom but have many issues when it comes to students mixing colors in the tray. I will have to visit my local dollar tree and find some mini muffin pans. Thanks for a brilliant idea.

  10. Mom V says

    These look fun and great for children, but keep in mind that the food coloring paint will fade much quicker than commercial watercolor paint.

    • happyhooligans says

      You make an interesting point, Mom V. I can only speak for the colouring that I used (Wilton Icing Gels), and the doodle art that I painted a couple of months ago is still as vibrant as it was when I painted it. Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend using this paint for a “masterpiece” that you want to keep forever anyway, simply because of the quality and the ingredients of the paint, but it’s great for those every day projects, or times when your kiddo “just wants to paint”. :)

  11. Sarah says

    Yes, I’m curious if they’d be washable? Let me know what you come up with. I have a 3 year old who loves to paint, but it HAS to be washable!

    • happyhooligans says

      We didn’t have any staining here, Sarah. Not on hands, or on the washcloth that I cleaned up with, but if you’re concerned, you could put your little one in an apron or a smock. Have fun!

  12. missy says

    CornSyrup substitute. For every cup called use 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water (LIGHT)
    1 cup brown sugar and a 1/4 cup water (DARK)

    Making mine with the substitute today. Used all my corn syrup last night on peanutbuter pocorn!

  13. boniferous says

    My kids are playing right now. My kids get to learn science from the reaction of chemicals, following directions (in making the paints), using tools to measure, learning about measurement sizes, primary colors and seconday colors and how to make them, creativity, art and some responsibility. Coolness!! I find alcohol or vinegar remove any color stains so it’s all washable. SWEET!

    • happyhooligans says

      So many opportunities for learning before the paint even hits the paper! Thanks for pointing them all out!! And thanks for your stain fighting tip! Hope your kids have a blast with these! :)

  14. Noavy says

    May I Translate for my Blog ?
    This is just amazing,
    Thank you so much for Sharing !!!
    Kindest Regards from Chile

  15. says

    Great Art recipe idea.. I will try with my kids art class …they will love painting with paint they have made themselves. We recently recycled denim too… the kids made their own denim covered art journal and decorated them with textas, ribbons and buttons etc they look fabulous. Happy creating, hooligans. Cheers from Australia

  16. Lori says

    I was wondering if a kid happens to get these wet aka water dispenser, etc. can these colors come off easy off other things besides paper?

    • happyhooligans says

      We’ve never gotten ours wet after they’ve dried, Lori, but I do know that once dry, the paint on the paper becomes quite chalky, and rubs off on fingers, so I would think that if they got wet, the paint might come off. I don’t know for sure though, sorry.

  17. says

    The egg cartons that are clear plastic would work as well as a muffin tin and would not keep the muffin tin from being available for muffins. I use the egg cartons to put paint in when I teach kid’s art classes. They last for many projects before having to be replaced.

    • says

      I have just painted aquadhere (white glue) onto the inside of a paper egg carton to seal it. When dry, I will then add the home made water colour paints to this and let dry. I will post how it goes once it’s all done.

      • happyhooligans says

        Hi Margie, Ok, so I notice that you made your paint and msg’d me at 2:42am (my time I guess), and then painted your egg cartons and were letting them dry at 3:09am, and were waiting for them to dry before adding your paint. The paint must be poured into your carton as soon as they’re mixed. If you let them sit while you prepare your egg carton and let it dry, the paints will start to set up, and I think you’ll have difficulty transferring them to the egg carton.

      • says

        Thanks I appreciate your replies, it’s all sorted now…the egg cartons dried quickly and before I finished the paint. Now i just have to wait for the paints to dry. Cheers Margie

  18. Donna-Marie Sloma says

    Simple Syrup – 1 cup water to 1 cup of sugar – put into sauce pan and stir, until all the sugar is melted – I use simple syrup for ice tea all the time –

  19. says

    Hello. Please help….any suggestions? I have just tried making a batch of water colour paints, as per your recipe above…I have put 4 tablespoons of baking powder and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a pot and stirred, left to settle, then added 1/2 teaspoon of golden syrup (corn syrup), and stirred, quite a smooth consistency to start with, but then I left it for a bit and it is all quite crumbly now and i haven’t added the 2 tablespoons of corn starch yet? I think it will be a bit too dry to add it? Are the ingredients measurements correct in your recipe? Or when I stir and add food colouring does it get runnier? I am going to make this next with my kids art class, so i was wanting to try it out first. please help… thanks Margie from Australia

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi, Margie,

      I’ve made the paints twice, using this recipe, and the measurements are correct. You mentioned that you used Baking POWDER. I’m not sure if that’s just a typo, but it’s 4tbsp of Baking SODA that the recipe calls for, so that might be the problem. Don’t let the recipe “sit for a bit” in between steps. You don’t want anything to settle or set until the paints are coloured and in your muffin tin. Once you add your corn starch the mixture is going to get sluggish and crumbly if you stop stirring because of the properties of the corn starch. Keep stirring to keep it in a thick, liquid-y consistency and pour it into your tray. It will kind of solidify before you add your colouring (again because of the settling properties of the starch), so work kind of quickly to add your colouring, and once you start stirring the colours in, it will go soft and liquid again. I hope you try again. If you follow the directions, exactly step-by-step, and don’t let the mixture sit for long between each step, it should work. Good luck! Jackie

      • says

        Hello Jackie
        Thanks for your advice……I did wonder if the reason was because i waited …i needed to buy corn starch!! ooops!
        I did continue on by adding some more vinegar and then the corn starch straight away and it seems to be okay. I have done 12 colours into an egg carton and i will see how it is this time tomorrow! If it doesn’t work i will do it again as the recipe says and try it with baking soda. i hope it works too. Cheers margie

      • Dee says

        Hi. I just made and had the same issue with it being too thick after adding corn starch.( I used baking soda) added a little more vinegar and was fine

      • happyhooligans says

        So you used baking soda instead of cornstarch, Dee? How did they turn out once they dried?

      • Dee Westley says

        Sorry my comment was a bit confusing lol. I used the recipe as stated but after mixing I added a little extra vinegar and they still turned out well. Although they took about 2 1/2 days to set. love them

  20. Jessica says

    This is too cool! Wow, I can’t believe how cheap and easy it is going to be to refill my school supplies when I’m running out, I think my boss is going to love me too much! I love this, thank you so much for taking the time to share this with all of us! Amazing!

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Jessica! These paints ARE cheap and easy, but I should tell you that they’re not a suitable replacement for the tempera type water paints you use in the classroom. They are vibrant and fun to use, but the quality when they dry is chalky, and will rub off if you handle the artwork. We just use them in the daycare as a replacement for the cheap watercolours that you buy at the dollar store. The work that they produce with them, isn’t work that you would really be able to keep and store. If you’re just looking for cheap paint to let the kids go nuts with though, then you’ll love this recipe. :)

      Cheers for now! Jackie

  21. says

    I am super excited about making this with my 4 year old! Her favorite activity in all the world is painting and she can go through the water colors! Thank you for the post and thank you for this blog – I cannot wait until my wee one goes to bed tonight so I can look around your site further!!! (found this link from a friend of mine on pinterest and am so glad she pinned it!)

  22. Maria says

    Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful ideas, I’ll try with the corn substitute, because we don’t have any kind of syrup here. My kids also love painting!!

  23. Cari says

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this recipe with us. My daughter loved making these and both of them enjoyed painting with them. We’re going to make a few sets as gifts for friends.

    Cari @ Reach For The Star Berries
    Reach For The Star Berries

    • happyhooligans says

      You’re welcome, Cari! I’m glad you loved them! I saw your post, and they turned out great for you! Thanks for linking back to us!

  24. Janet says

    You have such a wonderful site, and I’m so glad I found it. I was looking for activities to keep my four year old granddaughter busy, because was going to have surgery. As soon as I can get up and even halfway back to normal, I plan to get her busy on the type of projects you have on your blog. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing your great ideas!

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m so glad you found us, Janet, and so happy that you’re planning on doing some of our crafts and activities with your granddaughter!
      Sending you well-wishes for a speedy recovery! x

  25. Tammy says

    I just made some of these water color paints. I followed the directions to the letter and used the correct ingredients. There is liquid sitting on top of the solid part, so I added more corn starch, to the point where it was hard to stir. Thought I had it. Just checked on them again and the liquid is back sitting on the top. Any ideas or is this normal?

    • happyhooligans says

      Yes, Tammy, they’ll be wet immediately after making them. You have to let them sit for up to 48 hours until they harden. If you can find a warm spot to put them, they’ll dry faster though. I set mine by our gas fireplace, overnight, and they were dry in less than 24 hours. That layer of water on the top will evaporate as they dry. When you look at the first photo of my blog post (the one with the writing on it), mine are so wet on top that you can see an air bubble sitting on the surface of the red paint compartment. Have fun with your paints!

  26. Shantelle says

    hello! before i make these, i wanted to make sure of a couple things :) 1. are they just like watercolor trays that when they dry, they can be reused? what i mean is, when water is added, do they get gummy or gross, can they be used over and over? 2. what is the karo syrup for? is it able to be left out? i didn’t want to get a whole bottle for just that little bit, it’s not something i use otherwise. Thanks so much!!

    • happyhooligans says

      Yes, Shantelle, they’ll last for as long as you have them. When you’re finished using them, they harden back up. I don’t think you can leave the corn syrup/karo syrup out. I haven’t heard of anyone leaving it out. I’m not sure what purpose it serves in there, but I would think it’s needed for holding it all together because it’s sticky stuff. You could try it without though, but it might be a waste of the other ingredients if it didn’t turn out.

  27. Shirin says

    Before I start mixing these, do we really need to add only 1/2 tsp corn syrup? Looks like you made so much of this liquid, and yet the recipe only calls for a few spoons of everything here and there. Maybe I am slow today, but thought I’d ask first. Thanks.

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Shirin, that’s a double batch that I’ve made there. I mention that a little further down in the post. I guess I should make that point a little earlier in the post. I’ll do that now. Have fun with your paints!

  28. Ann says

    Thanks for letting my know about these paints via Renie, Jennifer. I’ll definitely be trying them out. I told Renie that I’d probably try agave syrup as well as corn syrup. And that I would like to eat the paints! Ann

  29. Anne Hiebing says

    Thanks for the recipe. I have a almost 3 yr old grandaughter living in Badami, India. Can’t wait to get this recipe to her mom (my daughter). No watercolors available there.

    • happyhooligans says

      You’re welcome, Anne! How wonderful that your granddaughter will be able to experience the joys of painting with our recipe!

  30. nichole says

    I went to make these and before the food coloring after mixing all ingredients it didn’t seem to have enough liquid did I do something wrong?

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi, Nichole, Cornstarch is one of those substances that feels almost like a solid when there’s a little liquid added to it. If you mix it with a stir stick or a fork, it will become a very thick liquid. It will seem extremely thick and paste-like when you’re trying to mix it. If it’s extremely dry, I would add your food colouring, and see if that’s enough to liquify it so that you can mix the colour in, but yes, it will be very thick and dry-ish. If you still think it’s too dry, and not working, I would try adding a couple of drops of vinegar. You don’t want it to be too wet and easy to stir though. Hope this helps. :)

  31. Angie Wilson says

    I just made 3 batches of this for my daycare kids. It took me 1 error batch to figure it out. Once you add the vinegar t the baking soda you need to mix it IMMEDIATELY – do not delay. Once it’s completely mixed – I quickly added the corn syrup and added the corn starch in little bits. It has that thick cornstarch/water consistency. If you do not mix the vinegar and baking soda very quickly – it will be lumpy and a bad batch.

    • happyhooligans says

      Hmmm.. Interesting. I’ve always made it exactly how I’ve described in the post, and never had a problem. Thanks for sharing your experience though. It may help others who encounter a similar problem. I’m glad it ended up working out for you, Angie! Enjoy!

    • says

      Water is a safe additive, when I thought it got all dry and wouldn’t stir I added 2 tablespoons of water to help, water will evaporate later,but in the mixing helps keep it workable.dont add to much water. Hope this helps it worked for me. LadyShold (Artist) just add one dropper ful of white Indian ink,to make white.

      • happyhooligans says

        Thanks for the tips, LadyShold. I appreciate it! I didn’t even know there was such a thing as white Indian ink.

  32. Jill says

    Since the ingredients are all “food” items, is there a chance these paints will eventually mold or rot or smell bad? I ask because I’m considering using this to make a painting for my living room.

    Sorry if this question has already been answered – you have a ton of comments here and I didn’t read them all! Thanks.

    • happyhooligans says

      As long as you store them uncovered, so the air can dry them out, they’ll keep indefinitely, with no spoiling, Jill.

      • Jill says

        I was referring to the painting I make, not the paints themselves, but I guess your answer would apply to that too. Thanks!

      • happyhooligans says

        Correct, Jill. The paintings won’t mold either. I’ve had one on the bulletin board in our craft room for a couple of years now. Regarding your plans to paint a picture for your living room, please keep in mind that these paints are neither archival or artist quality. They are an inexpensive substitute to the children’s watercolours that you would typically find at the dollar store. If you are looking to paint a piece of art that will last for years and look somewhat professional, these are not the paints for the job.

  33. says

    With white, I added a dropper of Indian ink to pasty mix stirred. I’ll let you know how it came out,most likely great. Thanks for the water color recipe.

  34. Karn says

    When coloring rice paper or soft tissue for quick projects, such as flowers, I use fruit cups or applesauce cups to mix my water and food coloring in. I usually have about a fourth to half inch of water in the cups. When my project is finished I let the cups sit so the water evaporates. I stack the dry cups, smaller storage space. I just add water for the next project. I can tell what color I will have by the color of the bottom of the cup.

  35. Christine says

    Those are the mini-est muffin pans i have ever seen! So cute and perfect for the watercolors! Im thinking of freezing the tablets after they dry…the way my 5 yr old goes through water colors, I want to make lots at once. Hope they freeze well, what do you think?

    • happyhooligans says

      You won’t have to freeze them, Christine. They’ll keep indefinitely just as they are. I’ve had mine in a cupboard for a year before, and they were perfect when we pulled them out. NOne of the ingredients are perishable, so they’ll keep just as long as store them uncovered so there’s no chance of mould if they’re damp.

  36. Cheryl Hayes says

    I am a high school teacher and we often have need of paint. How about lining the muffin cups with a sheet of the clingy plastic wrap, pushing it down into each cup, and then when your paints are dry, pop them out and put in an empty yogurt carton with a lid for storage.

    • happyhooligans says

      You certainly could transfer it to the yogurt tubs, Cheryl, but I would leave the lid off. Store these paints uncovered so they don’t go mouldy.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m sorry, but I don’t know, Essi. I’ve never tried it with apple cider vinegar. I imagine it would work, but I really cannot say for sure.

  37. shelyy walker says

    My daughters teacher had paints on her wish list I told her I had found out how to make on line. I’m giving this to her so my daughters class can make this thanks so very much for sharing.

  38. Dayna says

    I made these and they work great! I teach art at rather large elementary school. Towards the end of the year, with each watercolor project the students do, specific colors get used up (like blue) and I’m scambling to find every last bit of the color to finish up the project. My solution from here on out is to whip up a large block of those frequently used colors for each table to share. I’m so excited about this find that I will be sharing it next week at a workshop I’m presenting for art teachers in my district. I will proudly credit your blog for the find and share it with my fellow co-workers. Thank You!

    • happyhooligans says

      Absolutely, Fanny. Just like store bought paint trays, they’ll keep indefinitely if you store them uncovered. We’ve pulled ours out a year after making them, and they’re as good as new.

  39. Cassie says

    OMG God sent me your link via Teach preschool. My 4 homeschooled kids are just now learning painting tchniques, and watercolors was up first. I was dreading the idea of buying multiple packs of paint, but this will work perfectly and cheaply! I can’t thank you enough! PInning and FB sharing. 😀

  40. meridith says

    I made these for my daughter who is not quite 2 yet. My daughter LOVES to paint and is so excited when it get the ice cube tray down that I put the paint in. I have found they clean up just as easy as the store bought ones. as an added bonus if my daughter decides the eat, drink. or lick her paint or project I don’t have to worry about her getting something that is going to make her sick. Thanks so much for posting this wonderful paint.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe, Meredith. I like the idea of using an ice cube tray. I have about a dozen of those. I could make up lots of sets so the hooligans could each have their own to work with.

      • meridith says

        Here is an update on the Ice cube tray paints. My daughter and I went to visit my mom and other family in Texas for Christmas and Christmas gift funds were extra tight this year. In the process of cleaning out a cabinet Mom and I found a large stack of old ice cube trays from before we had an ice maker. She was going to throw them out but I took them made them all in to paint sets and wrapped them up to give to my friends kids/my daughters friends . I made over 20 sets of paints. I had more invested in the wrapping and bow than the gift its self but no one noticed that fact. Needless to say the ice cube tray paints were a huge hit with everyone we gave them too, and when I told them they were homemade they could not believe it. This made us able to give a lot of gifts with very little funds which made for a great Christmas. For any one interested I had about 4 cents or less invested in each set of paints I made.

      • happyhooligans says

        Meredith, I think that is just fantastic! I’m so thrilled to think that our recipe brought you (and it’s recipients) so much happiness at Christmas this year. Good for you for being so resourceful, and so wonderful that you gave a useful gift that really impressed for very little cost!

  41. Colleen says

    Hi Jackie,

    Someone could have asked this already so I am sorry if this is a repeat. Where can I find gel coloring? I have never seen it before. Thank you for your blog, it is AMAZING. I am following you on Facebook and we have tried a lot of your ideas. Great for snowy indoor play up here in Canada.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m in Canada too, Colleen, and I get my icing gels at Bulk Barn, and also at my local health/bulk food store. Michael’s Crafts also carry them, or as a last resort, you could order from So glad you’re liking our activities!

  42. Tash says

    if the paints dry chalky, it might mean that there’s too much pigment and not enough binder. you could try adding something that naturally binds, like perhaps honey or egg yolks, but they would have to be used fresh rather than dry. however, the paint will bind to the paper better and be more resistant to light fading and wear/tear.

  43. Jeri Lynn Willis Jagger says

    This was a huge hit for Christmas…I made some up from Santa…and the boys just love it. I have a 3 and 5 year old (well I also have a 16 and 14 year old as well as a 5 month old….but the 3 & 5 year old were the target age for this). I love it because it’s big enough to SHARE!!!! Not those little strips of water colors you get at the store…THANK YOU for the post…thinking the Easter bunny is going to bring your sidewalk chalk and the bubbles #thinkingahead!

  44. Kodi says

    Is it possible to substitute the vinegar w/ another weak acid like lemon juice? I have vinegar somewhere but I can’t seem to find it.

  45. says

    In the UK I notice corn syrup is replaced with golden syrup for cooking. Golden syrup is quite thick and extremely sticky so would this be a suitable replacement for making paint? Is corn syrup also very sticky?

    • happyhooligans says

      Yes, corn syrup is also very stick, thick and slow running. Yours sounds quite similar to mine, so I would think it should work. Do you have Karo syrup there? I know that’s an alternative in some parts, Sue.

  46. Kelly says

    If you don’t add the food colouring will the paint turn out as white? I love pastel paint and i always mix white with my normal colours…

    • happyhooligans says

      It might, Kelly. I really don’t know. Bear in mind that this is not “quality” paint. It occurred to me when you said you like to add white to your colours that you might be thinking you can use this for some serious art-work. This is really just an inexpensive paint option for young children who go through their art supplies quickly.

  47. says

    Hello there Happy. I work in a school with Special Needs children and can’t wait to try this out for Maths, Science and Art. Thankyou so very much for sharing this with us.
    As a side question, l went to Pin this and niticed that pretty much all your boards were listed in alphabetical order. How the Dickens did you manage this? Fluke? Reorganising and Refiling (please please let it not be this)? Some special Pin Button? I’d love to know, Barbara

    • happyhooligans says

      Haha! Thanks, Barbara! It took some work. One day I sat down, and took all of my existing boards, and moved each one so they would all display in alpha-order. It was a little time-consuming, but it was worth it. It’s so easy to find what I’m looking for now.

  48. says

    I accidently messed up and put baking POWDER instead of baking SODA. I kept adding vinegar until it became a correct consistency. Dried in a few hours. At first it worked great then it turned to sludge lol. Next time I’ll make it correctly and see how it goes. But all in all it was great and I can’t wait to try it again. Oh, and when the kids heavily coated the paper in the paint is when it dried all chalky and flaky.

  49. says

    In my March issue on my preschool teacher’s blog I have “Color” projects. Is it permitted to share your Water color paints recipe? I would give you credit of course by putting your link below it. Thank you for quick reply. Margaret Arvanitis (Ms. Marge.)

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi, Margaret! Yes, you’re certainly welcome to share one photo along with an accompanying link to my post. Thank you for sharing!

  50. annie says

    We have made these in a silicone pan and popped them out to use like watercolor crayons. If you are lucky and have a water bottle sillicone ice tray that makes cylindrical shape it makes great “pencils”

  51. says

    Wow! Awesome idea! y kids and me did this at home! This is a great way to make a homemade watercolors for my kids..instead of buying, i will just do this for this and they can also enjoy doing this with you know kids are very curious about everything..This kinds of activities are really great for them..It can help them to be more creative..They have already used it in their favorite coloring book which contains butterflies that they really love seeing.. My daughter says that its fun to finally use those watercolors that we did at home.They really enjoyed using it.

  52. Nadia says

    Hey, looking forward to trying this out. Was just wondering, what’s the best way to store the paints? Leave them in the tray? If so, covered or uncovered? And how long do they last?
    Thanks so much!

    • happyhooligans says

      Yep. Uncovered in the tray. They’ll last for as long as you have them. I had a tray tucked away for a couple of years once, and it was as good as new when we found it and used it.

  53. happyhooligans says

    Hi Helma, I see you’ve shared my paints as well. So glad you liked them. You’re more than welcome to share with one photo and a short description along with the link to my post, but I’ll have to ask you to remove the full post that you copied and pasted into your site. I dropped you a line on my puffy paint post to let you know about copyright infringement and whatnot. I’d hate for you to get in trouble with your blog for scraping content. Thanks.


  1. […] Super easy watercolors that you can make with materials you probably have around the house! Directions Here! […]

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