5 types of messy art: the washable version



To continue with my preschool art series…
crayon drawing



Kids’ art can be messy sometimes. Especially when the art doesn’t happen on paper.

Pens and markers on the wall? 

We’ve gotten lucky so far, but—to be honest—I have sometimes allowed my kids to draw on the walls.

I’ve even encouraged it on a couple of occasions!

I've learned that messy art can be fairly easy to clean up, and it's a great way to keep kids distracted for a while.


That lesson started once upon a time…

…when we decided to drive across the country with a toddler. A toddler who hated driving in the car and would not sleep.

That trip took us half a dozen long days of driving, split up over several weekends.

Yes, we let him play with a tablet on the drive.

We also found a miniature whiteboard with dry erase markers for him to play with in the car.

Toddlers don't generally have a long attention span, so I still had to wipe the board clean every 2-3 minutes. I also had to hunt out the lid to a red marker after my toddler sat on the marker for half a day.

The markers definitely kept him happy, though, and at the end of the day, the big red splotch on his jacket rinsed off just fine.


After that success, we decided to try out a set of washable crayons as well. 

(Just a note herenot all crayons will be ‘washable’ to the same degree, but the washable Crayola crayons usually come off with just a bit of water. You might want to double-check the "washable-ness" before turning a toddler loose with any crayon or marker!)

A week or two after we got the crayons, I needed to keep my kid in the room with me while I finished a project. So, I encouraged him to draw on the wall. Oops?


Or, not really oops?


He loved it, of course! He also loved helping me clean up afterwards—because toddlers think playing with water and a washrag is almost as fun as playing with crayons.


So, try some messy project occasionally! And then let your kids help with the clean up as well—just be sure to check how well the paint washes up first!

Here are five ideas for messy, washable activities:
  1. Marker tattoos. Let kids draw on themselves with washable markers! (I do try to give them a bath afterwards, at least before we go out in public again.)
  2. Paint with water pages. Since the paint is water-soluble, it washes up nicely even if you let it dry first. 
  3. Melissa & Doug Water Wow books. These can be a bit challenging if your child is learning how to unscrew lids. Each brush only holds a couple tablespoons, so doing that once isn’t a big deal, but five times in a row? Nope. Not doing that. During that phase, we put the books up for a couple months. Apart from that, though, these book are a great source of reusable fun!
  4. Finger paints. The best way to minimize mess with finger paints? Squirt a couple small blobs directly on the paper. Wait until your child has spread those around, and then add some more blobs. Avoid open containers of paint at all cost.
  5. Anything with Crayola washable crayons. A mini whiteboard, a spiral notebook (younger kids don’t care if it’s lined or not), even the blank side of junk mail letters. Not to mention walls!
a child fingerpainting

Bonus ideas:

We also recently tried window markers for the first time, and they were a hit—especially with our full-length glass door. (Though I should probably go check whether I can wash the marker off the wall, since it didn’t stay exclusively on the windows.)

Wipe-clean books are another great option as well! We use dry-erase markers on

them, but even washable crayons will work.

What are your favorite messy art activities to try? I'd love to hear what works best for you!

And let me know if I’ve given you any new ideas for playing with messy art!

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