There are so many to finger painting that getting the paint out for your learners is a must. “Messy play” is not only great for sensory development but also for exercising muscles and brains.

Fingers make fantastic paintbrushes because they are as environmentally friendly as you can get! Just some washing up in warm water when you finish and they can be re-used over and over again!

As long as you can keep clean up to a minimum, you’ll find yourself doing these activities again and again.

For these Learning Activities you’ll need:

  • Paint – make sure it’s non-toxic and washable. Or make your own Edible Fingerpaint. What about trying one of these recipes? It’s best if it’s thick!

  • Something to paint on – paper/card/plastic/perspex (try ‘temporary art’ on washable surfaces to use them again)
  • Somewhere for paintings to dry
  • Imagination
  • Fingers – All sizes!

Projects for All Ages

You’re never too young or too old – try these out.

Tummy Time

Tummy Time Finger Painting Sensory Play
Tummy Time Finger Painting Sensory Play

This one starts early – for under 6 months. Put the paint inside large plastic bags and tape them to the floor like CanDo Kiddo.

Be warned it may morph into face and finger painting.

But  this kind of “mess free” finger painting can be done by all ages – if you tape the bags to the floor, to tables, to windows, even to the concrete outside.



If you’re interested in a more instruction based art lesson then Art for Kids Hub have an engaging series of instructional finger painting videos – for a variety of age ranges.

The Spider video features an 11 month old, a four year old and a Dad.

Shared Art

Finger painting is fun when it’s done together too! Roll out the paper on a long table so everyone can get involved. Let children explore and you might be surprised at the outcome.

Sarah at Stay At Home Educator didn’t predict what these kids would finish up taking home when their painting was “finished’.

TIP: Cut the paper into sections to use for another mixed media activity (Depends on the “finished” artwork)


Another lesson idea is to turn fingerpainting into a Maths learning activity. Simply fold a piece of paper in in half before starting – finger paint on one side then fold the page – voila Symmetry. Here’s a 4 year old’s symmetry masterpiece from All Things Heart and Home to give you ideas.


Or finally you can just let the children freestyle it for the sensory experience. It’s sensory, open ended “messy play” that gets them hands on and having fun. You can vary the surfaces they’re painting on too. How about using some bubble wrap? Or maybe even sandpaper? Or use some big metal or plastic trays. The trays are great for this activity, once again because they’re washable.

How We Montessori  How We Montessori

Something to Aspire to

Now, go get that paint, and those fingers and start making masterpieces!

Who knows, you might be there for the start of an amazing career. Here’s finger painting artist Iris Scott in action – Magic.

Curriculum Linking

Want to link fingerpainting to your early learning curriculum or learning guidelines?

Here are some ideas for linking:

NQS vignette and guidelines – Australia
Play idea: Messy play – Korihori pōrehe – New Zealand
Purposeful Play Leads to School Readiness – USA
Young Children and the Arts – Making purposeful connections – USA
All About Messy Play – UK

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