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We Tried It! – DIY Edible Fingerpaints

I was recently lamenting on the facebook page that I find myself blogging about fun activities for the kids more often than we actually do them.  I’ve told myself engaging in messy art projects with a toddler and a baby is just too difficult.  And while that may have been true in the past, S is a year old now and the name of the blog is Modern Parents MESSY kids… it’s time to put up or shut up.


So today I’m introducing a new series, called “We Tried It!”, in which I’ll be trying (and photographing) some inspiring play activities from around the web.  They won’t all be art projects but that’s where we’re starting.  The hubs took C to Seattle’s annual air show/hydroplane/navy ship extravaganza that is Seafair on Saturday, so S and I had some alone time.


I decided to go with finger painting as our first activity since I’m all about art that focuses on the process, not the product, at this age.  Also, at 12 months, S still has a tendency to stick stuff (especially new stuff) into her mouth every now and then so we used this recipe for homemade edible fingerpaints.


It’s basically 1 part water, 1 part flour, and some food coloring – although we ended up using a little less flour.  This stuff is definitely meant for sensory exploration more than traditional art.  Nevertheless, I was surprised to find it dried enough on our paper plate to hang up later.  Check out the original DIY for two other easy recipes too.



I made three bowls of “paint” and started by dipping S’s hand in them and smearing them on a paper plate to give her the general idea.  (Note: I taped the plate to her high chair tray and had modest success preventing her from throwing it.)  Next I let S manipulate the paint for a while.  This definitely peaked her interest.  Click through to see how the rest of our art adventure went.



I was surprised to find that S actually did spend a significant amount of time finger painting.  The colors mixed nicely without becoming muddled and I think she liked the effect.



After several minutes her interest waned so we transitioned from painting to color-mixing.  She watched me pour first.



Then I let her have a go at mixing.  She liked smearing the smooth and cool mixture around the bowl and on her tray.  Then the inevitable happened…



Splat!  After that we were pretty much done.  All and all I’d say this was a very successful activity.  Good sensory and color play and easy to clean up afterward.  I think this could also be a great one to include C in too.  I’d probably set S up to paint the same way but give the paint to C in different size bowls and encourage him to pour and mix with spoons.


The use of the highchair with S was also nice because I was able to occupy her with food while I set everything up.  Once we were done, I gave her a surface scrub and she ate lunch while I cleaned up.  After that it was straight into a short bath and off to nap.


I think we’ll definitely do this one again – will you?  Any other art activities you’d recommend?  How about something you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the chance (or are a little scared)?  Let me know and we might just be your guinea pigs!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber @ Au Coeur August 8, 2011 at 4:02 am

We do this a lot because I think it’s much safer than traditional made with who-knows-what paint. I use less flour and my daughter paints with it with a brush. It’s fun, but I still discourage eating it because I don’t want them to think eating “paint” is okay and I don’t consider artificial coloring safe…but it’s certainly safer than other options.

If you put it in a plastic storage container, it’ll keep for several days in the fridge.


Domestic Goddesque August 8, 2011 at 6:37 am

Looks like she had a blast though. I confess our kitchen floor is covered in remnents of homemade paint and playdough. I have grand plans to get to it wuth a chisel one day but figure I should wait until we are beyond the paint-throwing (never mind food-throwing) stage so that I only have to do it once!
If you are looking for something spectacularly messy yet strangely appealing, try Imagination Tree’s Sparkle Soap Mud. My one year old LOVEd it.


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com August 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Amber – thanks for the storage tip! We didn’t make enough to keep this time around but I was wondering about that for the future.

Domestic Goddesque – I saw, and loved, that sparkle soap mud over at Imagination Tree too! It is definitely in my “to-do” file.


Emily@thepolkadotumbrella August 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm

My little one is also 12 months and I have taped paper to her highchair and let her colour with crayons while her big sister also colours. I just had to monitor to make sure the crayons did spend so long in her mouth. The baby thought it was so fun because she was doing something like her big sister.


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com August 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Great idea Emily – I’m amazed at what S tries/can do already because she wants to be like her big bro.


Common Sense Mummy August 9, 2011 at 1:50 am

I have an 18 month old and we have done this too. Last week I made the mixture slightly thicker (in between paint and dough consistency) and hid a few plastic animals in the mixture that she had to find. She thought this was so funny!


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com August 9, 2011 at 2:04 am

Another great idea – I’m loving how this “we tried it” series is spawning lots of spin-off activities


Anonymous August 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm

If you use half baking soda/half flour older kids can paint with the stuff outside, and the spray it with a spray bottle of vinegar. Voila, fizzy art! Cheap and edible (but yucky).


Susie August 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

It looks like you have the kind of high chair that is attached to the chair. We have a booster seat like that, and when we do edible finger paints, I set it on the floor before buckling him in. That way the paint doesn’t have far to fall. Also, our dining chairs are fabric and the tile floor is much easier to clean!


Anonymous November 29, 2011 at 6:04 am

Whenever I did finger painting in my Montessori classroom, the children could scoop out a spoonful of each two primary colors (not all 3 cause that makes puke color) and they would paint directly on the counter. If they wanted a product, an adult would lay a piece of paper over their design, smooth out and slowly lift off a beautiful print. It is reversed so writing is backwards. No special finger paint paper is needed and Clean up is easier! Finger paint on a unbreakable mirror for an special experience!


thnxpinterest December 30, 2011 at 4:52 am

love this and love your “we tried it” section – i’m doing something similar on my blog about thing pinterest has inspired me to actually do (including kids crafts)…I’m in Seattle as well so if you are ever up for a group messy kids project let me know! thnxpinterest.com


Chasing the Donkey July 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Perfect! I am looking for activities for my soon to be one year old. I have just added these to my shopping list.


NE-Things December 20, 2013 at 6:34 am

I LOVED this idea. Did it with my 1 year old. HE HAD A BLAST. I only made a small batch so he could use it all if he wanted. He made an awesome looking piece of art BUT this morning I remembered once using flour glue that ended up spoiling what I used it on. Will this paint spoil once dry? I’m taking a picture of it just in case. LOL I used thick scrapbook paper and have some Krylon Workable Fixatif but I use it for something else and don’t know if it’ll work on his art.


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