No-Mess Painting Projects for Your Littles

There’s something really amazing that happens when you let a child get creative with paint and play!  And for my mother that amazing thing was learning how much she loved me, despite how much of that paint got all over her living room walls and new carpet flooring. (Don’t worry, carpet cleaner and bleach saved the day, from what I’m told!) 

If you are looking for a cleaner, mess-free way to let your kids explore with paint and color while still making beautiful artwork with their little hands, here are a few great paint projects to try! Each one is appropriate for toddlers through elementary school, and you may just find yourself wanting to make your own! 

#1 Smush Painting in a Bag

If you’re looking for the perfect toddler art activity to help build on sensory experience and exploration, smush painting is it!


  • Large gallon Ziploc bag
  • Washable non-toxic paint
  • Cardstock or other thick paper source 
  • Packing tape, optional

Start by folding your paper in half or cutting it to size to make sure it fits nicely inside your Ziploc bag. Next, place different color drops of paint on the paper in any layout you prefer. It can be fun to have your child pick out which colors they want to include! Carefully place your paint-dropped paper inside your Ziploc bag and seal it tightly. You can choose to tape the border down on your child’s highchair tray or table to help keep the bag in place, as this helps some smaller children from trying to open it up! Now watch as little fingers smush the blobs of color all over, making their very own masterpiece! When they are finished, you can take their art out of the bag and lay it safely out of the way to dry. 

#2 Shake-it-Up Splatter Painting

If you’ve got an active kiddo on your hands with both energy and creativity to let out, get ready to watch them shake it up! 


  • Large, clean jar
  • Washable, non-toxic paint
  • Dried beans
  • Cardstock or other thick paper source

Start by cutting your paper to make it fit inside your jar, rolling it slightly to fit inside. Carefully add different color drops of paint to the inside bottom of your jar. (An empty washed-out peanut butter or tomato sauce jar works great!) Pour out a few dried beans into your jar as well, covering the bottom of the paint. Now this is where your kid gets to go crazy! Encourage them to shake it up, roll it, dance around and get all their energy out while creating something fun. When they finally stop, take out the paper and pick off any beans that may be stuck to the paint. Place it to dry somewhere safe out of your little one’s reach.

#3 Washable Bath time Gel Painting 

Making bath time fun is a whole lot easier when you’re washing a little Picasso in the tub! Both older toddlers and bigger kids can get on board with this “messy” painting project!


  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk or hand mixer
  • Muffin tin
  • Water
  • Shower gel
  • Food coloring
  • Paint brushes

Grab your mixing bowl and add a few large pumps of your child’s shower gel or body wash along with about ½ cup of water and begin mixing. Once you start to see that the mixture is turning foamy, you’re ready to add equal parts into your muffin tin. Choose which color food dye you’ll be adding and squirt a few drops into each muffin tin section and mix until the foam turns the right color. Your “paint” is ready to go! Add a few paint brushes and head to the bath to let your little one create some beautiful bath time artwork.  This one may not be 100% mess-free, but washes away easily with warm water and won’t leave the tile and grout stained. 

Remember, your kids’ greatest learning opportunities will come from simply having fun with you and being able to explore and create. Enjoy trying these no-mess painting projects to make memories together while keeping things clean!


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