As you may have noticed by now, I enjoy art of all kinds and want to pass that enjoyment on to Lewis. I also like to get messy once in a while, especially because I know that messy play is such a valuable learning experience in so many ways.
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather today (blocked milk duct, crossing my fingers it doesn’t turn into an infection) and decided I’d prefer to sit around inside in my yoga pants rather than going outside for our usual play time. I love playing outside, but it takes a lot of energy to keep up with Lewis, make sure he’s not running in front of cars or eating rocks or acorns or crab apples, or trying to go bang on other peoples’ apartment doors, etc. etc. However, I knew that if we were staying inside I’d need to find something fun and exciting to keep him busy with or he would just be feeling cranky and cooped up which wouldn’t be very relaxing for me. So as strange as it sounds, the most relaxing thing I could think of to do was to let him make a big mess with paint!
I got the bathtub all set up ahead of time for a bath, brought all the paper/brushes/paints to the table, got a couple of wet washcloths and put them in easy reach, and then stripped him down to his diaper and strapped him into the high chair.
A few days after he turned one I had decided I wanted to make his footprints on paper and got out the paints to do that. I painted his feet and tried to stand him up on the paper but he was not interested so the paper ended up a mess and I cleaned him up almost right away after starting the activity. However, I kept the painting around and last night he noticed it and was “asking” to paint his feet again. So we started our painting activity with me painting each foot and making a print, and then I got a fresh paper for him to explore the paints on his own.
He had even more fun with this than I expected and did a great job actually “painting” and smearing the paint around with the tools I had given him. We’ve tried painting a couple of times before with homemade paint and a paper taped to the kitchen floor. He had a lot of fun with that too, but that was more of a full-body experience and a lot more about dribbling paint and moving around over and through the paint, where as this time he focused more on actually using the “brushes” to interact with the paint and to make a picture (on the paper and on himself.)
I used the Crayola washable paints this time. I had been a little hesitant in the past to use these with him, even though they are nontoxic, but he has been doing really well recently with putting things in his mouth much less, and listening when I ask him not to, so I decided to give this a try. He did awesome and only touched the paint to his mouth one time, and I don’t think he even actually tasted it.
I let him choose his paint colors, and his first painting (and his body) ended up with fall leaf colors.
On his second painting he finally decided to dig his fingers in a bit and explore finger painting, but he went back to using the brushes after only a little bit exploring with his hands.
One of the great things with the Crayola paints is that they are super easy to clean up. (I learned this when working in preschool. A lot of other paints we had were harder to wipe up or would stain the kid’s skin, but these come right off.) We wiped off most of it with the washcloths I had on hand, then I carried him into the bathroom, filled the tub and popped him in. The rest of the paint came off super easily with the washcloth and then we had some bonus play time in the water.
While not everyone would choose messy play as a way to pass a day when they aren’t feeling well, this worked out exactly as I hoped it would and I definitely plan on introducing more painting activities soon.