Toddler Activities: Art for the Lazy Mum – Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

Hercules likes to paint as well. Unfortunately, he is not nearly as disciplined as Aristotle when it comes to cleaning up after himself. He is also much more adept at creating a mess. Since our new shower is not quite so easy-clean-friendly (concrete walls instead of tiles), I have had to take extra measures to simplify my lazy art methods

We’ve moved away from Crayola finger paints and watercolours which can both be quite tedious to wash off. Instead, we now use food dyes to make our own watercolours.

All you need are your three primary colours since you can mix them to get your secondary colours. Add just a little dye into a plastic jar with a lid, add water and Bob’s your uncle – watercolours. Whatever is left after painting – if any of it can still be reused – can be sealed and saved for another day. And if not, well, there’s always more of where that came from anyway. The colours won’t stain – which is great since all Hercules is really interested in is painting himself anyway (note: the paint on his body below were finger paints from Crayola).

Update: erm… I ought to make a correction, it won’t stain so long as you dilute the dye sufficiently. The second batch I made which was stronger made Hercules look like he was bruised blue and black and freaked out my SIL2 when she saw him.

The effect of food dye paints on paper is still good enough for a watercolour painting. If you find it is too light, all you need to do is add more dye to make the paint more concentrated.

And if your child decides to play scientist and mix all the colours together (which is more likely than not), fret not for all you need to do is just make a fresh batch and you’re ready to go again. Plus, it’s a lot more economical to get three bottles of food dye than a set of finger paints/watercolours. Not only is it cheaper, it also lasts longer.

Last but not least – it’s non-toxic. I think this is the best part. If your child gets thirsty and decides to drink the paint, you don’t need to dig out the bottle of ipecac syrup.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

5 thoughts on “Toddler Activities: Art for the Lazy Mum – Part 2

  1. the food dye will come off easily?
    mine wouldn’t! i was a little aghast when it wouldnt come off our skin the first time i played with ds. it will stain a little on our skin until after a few washes( baths ).
    maybe i should try a different brand? 🙂


    1. Shia – oops, my bad. That usually means you haven’t diluted it enough. The first batch I made was fine – didn’t stain. But the second did! So I better ammend this post! His legs looked like they were bruised because of the blue dye :-p But it does come off eventually.


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