When we were kids, one of our favourite summer-time activities was painting with water. It was such a simple activity but it provided hours and hours of creative, imaginative fun.
All the kids on my street loved doing it. We would fill a few buckets with water, and we’d round up some old, scruffy paintbrushes (the ones our parents didn’t really mind us playing with), and then we would gather in someone’s yard to “paint” their sidewalk, the bricks on their house, their garage door etc.
To a child, there’s something very gratifying and magical about dipping a paintbrush into water, making huge brush strokes on a wall or deck or fence, and then watching them slowly evaporate in the sun.
As an adult, I still love this activity, and I offer it to my daycare hooligans often.
It’s a quick and easy set-up, it’s mess-free and cost-free, and it can keep the kids happy and entertained for long stretches of time.
In fact, we paint with water so often that I keep our painting tools on the front porch so the kids can play with them whenever they want. It’s a great activity for a day that’s too cold to play IN water but warm enough to play WITH water.
When painting with water, these are the tools that we use:
- a large paint tray
- a few paint rollers
- large paint brushes
- a bucket for dipping brushes in
- extra jug filled with water (to re-fill the paint tray)
Kids love using grown-up tools, and doing grown-up jobs, and the big brushes and rollers make them feel like they’re doing adult work.
The large brushes and rollers hold a lot of water, so they deliver gratifying results when rolled over a large surface.
It’s not often that kids get to use brushes and rollers this size, and it’s certainly not often that they’re able to paint on a canvas as large as a garage door or the wall of a house, so it’s quite exciting to make art this way.
The rollers are particularly good for developing gross motor skills and co-ordination because they’re quite heavy when they’re weighted down with water.
If you don’t have large paint brushes and rollers, your kids can still enjoy painting with water, using small artists brushes. We often take our small brushes and cups of water outside to decorate and write on our fence.
Painting with water provides many developmental benefits for little ones:
Imaginations flourish as kids pretend that they’re painters, transforming the house, flower pots, lawn chairs, the fence etc.
They can exercise their artistic skills as they decorate patio stones, the sidewalk, and driveway.
Team-work comes into play as they work together to cover a large section of a fence or wall with water.
Kids can practice letter formation by writing their names with their paintbrushes.
Children can work on their pouring skills as they fill the paint tray with water.
And of course, the activity encourages playful conversation and co-operation as the children interact and work together, sharing the water, trading tools and re-filling the paint tray.
In my opinion though, the very best thing about painting with water is that it’s one of those good, old-fashioned activities that help to make childhood magical, and one that the kids will remember fondly years from now.
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.