Vibrant Paper Towel Art for Toddlers Thru Tweens

Paper Towel Art – an easy art project and a lesson in water absorption!  

This is actually a great way to test your markers to find out which ones are good, and which ones have dried up. With the good markers, you can create a rockin’ piece of art like the ones we made today.  It’s one of my favourite, easy art techniques for kids.

For young children, this process is great for developing fine-motor skills, learning about water absorption and colour blending. Older kids will find the process rather mesmerizing, and they’ll think the results are pretty rad.

Note: Whatever you do, when you’re testing your markers, do NOT throw out the ones that have dried up!  They’re totally valuable!  You can turn them into homemade liquid watercolours for your kids to paint with, and use for other projects.

paper towel art - happy hooligans


Now, I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to make with these colourful paper towel creations that we made today, but I’m sure we’ll work them into a craft of some kind, and when we do, I’ll share it with you.

For now, here’s how your hooligans can make some some paper towel art of their own at home or in the classroom.

Supplies for making your one-of-a-kind paper towel art:


supplies for making marker and paper towel art

  • washable markers (not permanent markers – the ink needs to bleed when wet)
  • paper towel
  • paintbrushes (or a cup of water and a medicine dropper).
  • water

How to dye paper towels with markers and water:

colouring paper towels with markers

Have your child scribble all over a piece of paper towel, filling in as much white space as possible.

An older child can do this on his own, but a younger one may be overwhelmed at the prospect of covering the entire paper towel, so you may want to work together for this part.

paper towel covered in marker scribbles

Work on a hard surface…

Once you’ve finished filling in your paper towel, place it on a hard, non-absorbent surface.

You don’t want anything soft and absorbent under your paper towel because it will wick the colour out of your work. A plastic tray or a cookie sheet would work well.  We worked on the hard, veneer surface of our craft table.

Just add water…

Now, have your child wet the paper towel by either brushing water onto it with a paintbrush, or by dripping water all over it with an eye dropper.

brushing water on to a marker-covered paper towel

This part of the process is a great lesson in water absorption.  The hooligans watched the colours bleed and blend as the paper towel absorbed the water. Their art work was instantly transformed right before their eyes.

paper towel art

marker ink bleeds together on paper towel

Drying your art:

Dry your paper towel somewhere that the air can get under it and all around it.  I hung some of ours on the clothesline, but  I also put a couple on a cookie sheet so the would dry from underneath.  Just be sure to lay it on a surface that will A) not absorb the colour or B) not stain!

paper towel art drying on clothesline

Our colours faded a little as they dried, but our art was still very pretty.

To finish, just for fun, we tore our paper towels into long strips and small pieces.  More fine-motor development. :)

paper towel art torn into small pieces

Now I just have to figure out what we’re doing with it!  Got any suggestions?

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

Homemade Water Colour Paints

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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Happy Hooligans for kids crafts and activities from toddlers to preschoolers

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