My son loves to paint but always makes a huge mess. Any tips?


Messy (or sensory) play is a fun and interesting way for children to explore and learn about the world around them, but for parents it is just so, well messy! Here are a few ways to minimize the mess. The first is to choose a location that is easy to clean up such as the kitchen, bathtub, driveway, or backyard. Lay a vinyl shower curtain, plastic tablecloth, splash mat (I like Mimi the Sardine Splashmats), old bed sheet or drop-cloth on the ground to make clean-up fast and easy. Use an old t-shirt or smock to protect your son’s clothing and make sure to use washable paint. If you don’t have time to clean up a mess, try Crayola’s Color Wonder Paint that uses colorless paints that only show up on Crayola’s Color Wonder paper. Another mess-free way to paint is to squirt paint into a Ziplock bag. Seal the bag making sure all the air bubbles are out, and tape it to the table with a piece of white paper underneath it. Your son can use his fingers to “finger paint,” or use toy cars or plastic animals to make fun tracks. 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

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