Homemade Finger Paints

On one of my Pinterest boards I have this recipe from Raising 4 Princesses. Given Eli’s recent interest in painting it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. After being disappointed by the set of natural food colors I went ahead and picked up a pack of conventional food colors for this project. There are other interesting finger paint recipes out there, but I wanted one that while still non-toxic would definitely not taste good as I don’t go to great lengths reading every label known to man only to serve up a heaping dose of artificial coloring to Eli in the tempting form of delicious art supplies.

With no further ado, here we go. You won’t believe how crazy quick and easy this is!


2 T. sugar

1/3 c cornstarch

2 c. water

Boil until it forms a gel. It doesn’t take long at all. It will look like this (except it will still be in your pan.)

Add 1/4 c. liquid soap

Not only does it now taste bad but it is washable too!

Divide into separate containers. Add a few squirts of food coloring.

After this test I did add a little more dye to the green paint.

Stir, et viola… cheap, easy and washable finger paint!

If you click through on the link to my source for this recipe you will see that she let her kids go crazy with this stuff outdoors all over a bed sheet. Amazingly, she found that it all washed off afterwards with a hose!

Before giving this a go I decided to do a test on the dishtowel I’d already splattered a bit while making the paint. (Adult sounding excuse… but really I couldn’t keep my own fingers out of it. This stuff just begs to be smeared!)

After washing the paint off the towel under the tap I was still left with a pink stain. Perhaps with a stain treatment and a proper laundering this will come out. Even so I added a bit more soap to the container of red paint. Red is the one you’d want to taste particularly bad anyway! (If only I had some essential oil of something Eli would find truly revolting, like lettuce, avocado or cantaloup… but actually I don’t have much of a problem with him putting non-food items in his mouth anymore.)

The first time I let Eli have a go with these paints he didn’t want to touch them at all and practically had a meltdown demanding a brush. I gave him the brush , of course, as I certainly don’t want painting to become some form of chore or torture, but it really did defeat the purpose of it becoming a sensory  activity. I have noticed a growing sensitivity to having messy hands with Eli. To address this I will be bringing more of these gloppy sorts of activities into his sensory diet.

So Mama got to scheming… A few days later I asked Eli if he would like to go outside, and paint, with his FEET! The suggestion was greeted with a “Yay!” by a toddler who had never before been in such a hurry to change his clothes.

I decided to just use a large sheet of paper instead of trying out the bed sheet painting activity. I was just not in the mood to create more laundry today.

As our sidewalk is on a bit of an incline and the paint is somewhat slippery I think doing foot painting on a textured piece of cloth may be a bit safer.

After a while a nervous Mama suggested he squat down and try using his hands. By now he didn’t think twice about not wanting to touch the paint, although he did then keep asking me to wipe his hands off. I just showed him how to try to wipe it off himself using the paper. We made some progress with his tolerating the feeling of the paint on his hands, but he soon decided he was done.

Clean up is always great fun when it involves a hose, especially when there are bubbles involved!


  1. July 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    nice, but considering Wes’ favorite color is Lightening McQueen…I mean Red….he’d prob get that all over everything. Maybe I will bookmark it and try it in 6 mo or so.

    • July 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Yea, probably a good idea. That or just don’t make red paint. I wonder if it depends on the brand of food coloring you buy as the person I pinned the recipe from didn’t seem to have a staining problem. I’m ashamed to admit that I still haven’t gotten around to laundering the stained towel, and by now it is likely set even if it would have come out if laundered promptly.

  2. Oster's Mom said,

    July 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I love the idea of bringing him outside for the messy art. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    Do you think this activity is too advanced for my 14-month-old?

    • July 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      If he still is putting everything in his mouth you probably want something completely edible. Of course omitting the dish soap will make this much more staining, but if he has on stainable clothing and you don’t mind stains on his hands for a couple days it would be ok. I’ve also seen recipes to make finger paint out of a lot of a lot of powdered milk and a little water and coloring. I bet Oster would have a blast!

      • Oster's Mom said,

        July 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

        Thank you! I will omit the soap and make sure he wears “painter’s clothing”. Since he’s allergic to dairy 😦 I’ll skip the powdered milk and just use corn starch. I can’t wait to try this…

      • July 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm

        Eli is very sensitive to milk too though I’ve considered making this with goat’s milk. If Oster has a true milk allergy I know that isn’t an option. I’ve always wondered if the milk paintings would smell funky after a while anyway.

  3. Maysem said,

    July 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Wonderful idea!! Love all the fun and creative ideas you share with us… and it seems so does Eli:D Pinning it!

  4. adohrenwend said,

    July 14, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Ha! Foot paint is way better than finger paint! Those are the moments that really make me smile. Will definitely try this one with the girls. I like the intensity of the colors. Looks like a great recipe!

  5. July 14, 2012 at 10:52 am

    You have THE BEST ideas for kids and activities. Another winner here. So fun … even the clean up. 🙂

  6. July 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    That sounds like so much fun: I must try it with my son!

  7. July 16, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Kool idea. I’ll have to find that pin. We’ve been doing different watercolors and now our kitchen table looks like a warzone. 🙂

  8. September 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

    […] had a partial can on Dollar Store shaving cream and some homemade finger paints left over from other […]

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