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 prodigiously 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. It started once upon a time…

…when we decided to drive across the country with a toddler. 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 an 8x11” whiteboard with dry erase markers for him to play with in the car.

He did need me to wipe the board clean every 2-3 minutes, and he did paint his hands, legs, and face prolifically. At the end of the day, though, the markers washed off with a bit of water—even the big red blotch that soaked into his jacket after sitting on a marker for most of a day.

After our success with the markers, we picked up a set of washable crayons to add to our collection. 

I know not all crayons will be ‘washable’ to the same degree, but those cleaned up so well that I once coaxed the toddler to draw on his wall for half-an-hour while I finished a project. Then I got him to help me clean it up to—because playing with water and a washrag is almost as much fun for toddlers as crayons.

So here are my five play ideas for messy, washable activities:
  1. Marker tattoos. 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.
  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!


Bonus idea:
We just tested a window marker, and it was 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.

Again, not all brands will clean up as well. Washable Crayola crayons are basically magic. Regular Crayolas? Not so much.

So, maybe test the washable-ness before creating a full wall mural?

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

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