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Six Easy, No Mess Art Ideas

A. LOVES to paint. I hate to clean up paint. This is a pretty unfortunate dynamic, since one of us always get the short end of the stick. We still manage to do lots of art, but I’ve been looking for ideas to keep things as mess-free as possible.

I found these guys during a recent trips to the dollar store:

Bingo dabbers, in lots of colors. It’s a marker, it’s paint, it’s perfect!

These things are not just for old ladies looking to win big! They are amazing; the don’t really drip or bleed through paper, come in several colors and wash out pretty easily.

This is a total win-win. A. can do what she loves almost any time, since clean up is a breeze. For us, that can mean an easier time getting dinner finished or laundry folded while she gets her art on. More importantly, we can spend more time enabling her to do the things she enjoys without banishing art projects to weekends only. Even though we picked up several of these, which have quickly landed at the top of our list of  go-to activities, our easy art supply organization system helps us keep control over the growing collection of art supplies.

Five more no-mess ideas to try, courtesy of Pinterest:

spill proof paint cups

1. No-Spill Paint Cups by Melissa & Doug: If you still want to try traditional paint with less mess, try picking up some of these guys. Because I love everything they make, I just ordered some for A.’s birthday (which is less than two months away…eeek)!


Paint bags

via Let's Explore

2. Plastic Bag Painting: Pour some paint into a plastic freezer bag, seal well, spread the paint around and let your kiddo doodle on the bag with their fingers. Could be a fun way to learn about combining colors by using two primary colors.



paper towel painting pages

via Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers

3. Paper Towel Painting Pages: Make your own no-mess watercolor paintings by tracing designs onto paper towels with washable markers. Let the kiddos ‘paint’ over your lines with water for an instant water color effect.



painting with water

via Teach Preschool

4. Painting with Water: This one is super simple and great for summer. All you need is a bucket of water and a paint brushes. Let your kids create incredible disappearing works of art by painting with water on the driveway or sidewalk.



bubble bath paint

via Meet the Dubiens

5. Bubble Bath Paint: It doesn’t get easier to clean up kids art than when they create it right in the bath. Try bath crayons or bubble bath ‘paint’ (thickened with corn starch and dyed with food coloring) and lets the kids get creative in the tub. Just rinse and you’re done!


Do you have any tips to make sure art time stays good, clean fun!

Unplanned project: closet craft organization

Last Tuesday, we got home from a week on the road. With a weeks’ worth of laundry, new toys, spent car activity supplies (more on that coming soon) finally unloaded for good, the house looked like a tornado zone and felt like a mess.

On Wednesday, A. and I ran errands together on our last day off before heading back to daycare and work. On my list for the day: stop at the dollar store to get new bulbs for the front entry light fixture. This should have been simple, but the dollar store tempts me with ideas for crafts, toddler activities and home organization. Given the current state of our house, I was an easy victim.

In addition to picking up a few light bulbs, I grabbed supplies for a quick closet storage makeover project. For just a few dollars, I whipped up a simple, cheap and effective solution for A.’s growing collection of art and craft supplies.finished bins on shelf

We had been storing A.’s art supplies in a big shoe box under the bed. As she’s gotten older and more mobile, this is no longer a safe place for finger paints, markers, glue and other supplies we’d rather she not use unattended. When I saw the cute and colorful handled bins, I knew a grouping of these on A.’s currently empty closet shelf would be perfect for easy adult-only access to supplies while keeping things neat and sorted.

As I wandered the store, I also grabbed a three-pack of Sharpies in coordinating colors, some cotton twine and a pack of index cards to make custom labels for each bin. I had recently pinned a tutorial on DIY striped bakers twine and though this would be a cute and simple way to try it out.

bakers twine

The DIY tags didn’t work out how I had hoped, so I ended up trying something different. I used a bokeh photo of Christmas lights I snapped last week as a background and whipped up matching labels by adding text in Picnik. I used Scotch self-sealing photo laminating sheets to give them a wipable, durable finish.

I love it! A.’s art supplies now look as cool as the things she makes with them, and I am thrilled that she has a neat and organized closet. If only the parts other people could see looked better!


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