Unusual Paint Brushes: Simple Process Art Projects for Toddlers and Preschoolers


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Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy opportunities to be creative and engage in an open-ended project, and painting is just that! It is a fun, process art activity that creates an opportunity for fine motor development in fingers and hands as children work with different materials and squish paints between their fingers!

What are Unusual Paint Brushes? 

You can change up a child’s creative and tactile experience by offering stamps, sponges or other items for applying paint. Unusual paint brushes are any materials that children dip in paint to stamp, smudge, or smear. Using these different materials will make a special final product, full of unique textures and shapes. If you are looking for some inspiration, the list below includes a variety of materials that children can paint with. 

  • Citrus fruits: Children can dip lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits that you have cut in half into containers of paint and use them as stamps! Click here to find more information about how to set up this project. 

  • Sponge shapes: Sponges can  also be used as stamps! For added fun, cut the sponges into a variety of shapes, and talk with children about the different shapes that they are using throughout the activity. Click here for more ideas. 

  • Rolling ball: Rolling a rubber ball on construction paper with paint will leave an interesting and unique pattern. If you have different sizes and textures of balls available, you can use a few of them together and compare the variety of prints! Click here for more ideas. 

  • Marshmallows: Marshmallows, held using a clothespin as a handle, can be used as stamps or brushes. Because marshmallows are tempting to snack on, you might consider an edible paint. Click here for a recipe.

Developmental Benefits

Fine motor skills are movements that use small muscles in children’s hands, fingers and wrists. These include muscles that will later be used for holding pencils and writing! By offering children a variety of items with different shapes and textures to work with, you are encouraging them to use different grips to help strengthen all of the small muscles that will form the foundation for development of kindergarten readiness skills.

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