Baby and Toddler Play: Paper Plate Painting

Jul 29, 2013

Ageapprox. 6 months to 2+ years (see bottom for tips)
(N was approx 13 months here. See bottom for tips to simplify or extend to meet your child's needs)

Materials: Paper Plates, Washable Non-toxic Paint (we used Micador Easy Wash), Paintbrushes, Splash Mat

I set up our Invitation to Play on the floor. On each paper plate I squirted a couple of different colours.

Having it set out on the floor like this made him move around his paintings in a different way and work those gross motor skills.

He swirled and dotted and mixed the colours together

He was intent on painting with the wrong end of the brushes. I showed him the other way but he enjoyed doing it this way which was fine.

Always use an easy wash paint as you will end up with paint around the place. Keep a damp washcloth on hand to easily wipe up mess.

Baby is Learning:

Fine motor skills
Hand and eye coordination
Shapes. The paper plates are round. 
Colours. The paints are different colours. Mixing them creates new colours
Emotions. Excitement, anticipation and enjoyment.
- Gross Motor. Moving around from one plate to another.
Language from the interactions you have together and talking about your experiences.
What to do with the materials. Use the paintbrush to move the paint around the plate.

Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by putting out just one plate at a time. You might find it easier to control the mess and talk about just one or two colours.

Extend this activity for older children by focusing on various patterns and colour mixing.

Mix it up by letting the child add the paint to the plates themselves.

Repeat this activity as often as you like because babies (& children) need repetition to consolidate their learning and understanding. They will gain new insights each time they repeat the same activity.

Talk to your child about what they are doing. This will help them begin to understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as helping develop their vocabulary. "Look at the blue paint!", "You are swirling the paint around," "What colour have you made?" etc. 

Play with baby. Once they have explored on their own and been given an opportunity to discover on their own, you could show them different painting techniques like swirling or dotting on making stripes through the paint.

Supervise. Small children need constant supervision.


Happy playing,
Debs :)

We like to play here as well. Come play with us :)
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  1. This is a great idea using the paper plates to paint on!!! My little guy is 13 months now and this will be nice to try with him. He can learn and have fun at the same time. Also there is quality time and bonding withmommy.
    Sharing :)

    1. Thanks Bismah. I hope you and your son enjoy the time together. :)

  2. I love how this simple activity offers so many opportunities to learn and explore, Debs. Thanks for sharing with us today!

  3. Hi! I'm new to your site- and I LOVE IT! I think I just pinned 6 baby games. My LO is almost 13 months old and I'm trying to come up with fun ways to learn and play! THANK YOU for your awesome blog. What is the name of the apron type thing your son is wearing? I'd love to do some painting with my son, and that apron thing looks like a good investment. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks Jen. That's an early start art smock by Micador. They're actually currently on sale :)

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