I was a nursery school teacher for several years before my first child was born. When he arrived, I couldn’t wait to introduce him to all the joys of creating and mess-making!That excitement carried through right up until the first time I got him settled at the table at about 18 months old, laid out the paper, and showed him how to finger paint. He dipped one finger in, drew a tentative line, and then had hysterics because his hands were “dirty!”. Even now, as a grown man, he is not thrilled about getting anything on his hands, although obviously his tolerance is much greater.
In case you have a child with a similar aversion, here are 5 ways I’ve found to let them play without touching the “ick”.
Gel or paint in a bag.
Fill a large Ziploc bag with tempera paint, hair gel, or any other delightfully gloopy substance. Tape it to the table at the top, and let them draw to their heart’s content.
A sand tray.
There’s no rule that says their creations have to be done with paint. Buy a tray from your local dollar store with a good (1″ or higher) lip on it, add clean sand (you can even buy coloured sand), and give them a stick or paintbrush handle to make pictures in the sand with. Take a photo when they’re done.
Put them in gloves.
Invest in a box of disposable gloves from the pharmacy and let your child wear a pair when you break out the arts and crafts. Seems simple, but be advised that not every child will go for this one because they “feel funny” to some children.
Crayola makes special paint that is transparent until it goes onto its own special paper. It’s pricier than your regular paper and paint, but the results are just as pretty and this may offer a good solution – with the bonus that there’s no clean-up for you!
Let them create in other ways.
If they really can’t stand getting things on their hands, there’s no law that says you must paint with your child. Break out the paper and make a mosaic, collage, or snowflake. Teach them how to cook. Go outside and take a walk. Chances are, your child will let you know when they’re ready, and you won’t have frustrated them or yourself in the meantime.
If you like my posts on Mummyology, I’d love to see you over at my blog The Usual Mayhem, so we can share all the other learning activities we do on a day to day basis! You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.