Preschool Painting on Foil

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One of our favorite toddler and preschool art activities is painting on foil. The surface is slick so the paint dances across it, reflecting the light in the room. Using a paintbrush is fun, but for an additional fine motor challenge we like to use cotton swabs. If you are looking for a simple art activity to set up in minutes, this is it!
Preschool Painting on Foil
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What you will need:

  • aluminum foil

  • cotton swabs

  • tempera paint

  • liquid dish soap

  • construction paper (optional)

preschool painting on foil

Setting it up:

Because I wanted to display these on the wall, I stapled a piece of aluminum foil to construction paper. This gave it extra support, plus I cut the foil a bit smaller so that the construction paper framed it. I poured the tempera paint into a container and added a generous squirt of liquid dish soap. This helps keep the paint from flaking. (Note: some of the paint will still flake off afterwards, so handle carefully once dry.)

preschool painting on foil
I then invited the children to dip the cotton swabs into the paint and move it across the foil. I noticed they paid more attention to detail using the cotton swabs as opposed to using brushes.
 preschool painting on foil
preschool painting on foil 
For most of the children, it ended once they added the desired amount of paint to the foil. For others, however, the hands decided to get involved. I was not expecting this but loved observing it.
preschool painting on foil
It started with the fingers….
preschool painting on foil
…and then the paint was poured out of the jars onto the foil. Now, I realize some of you might not be comfortable letting it get to this point, and that is up to you. Since our classroom is set up to handle messes, I let them keep on exploring.
preschool painting on foil
It became quite a sensory experience as their hands got covered with the slippery soap.
preschool painting on foil
 The entire hands got involved, feeling the paint, moving the paint, going beyond the boundaries of the paper. The good part is that we used washable tempera paint that also had dish soap added, so clean up really was not that difficult. It was worth what these children were able to experience!
preschool painting on foil

Looking for more activities to do with your kids?


simple activities for kids   literacy activities for preschoolers   preschool math


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  1. Looks awesome! I teach three year olds and I think they would love this. I am going to try it with mine.

  2. ooooo… I really, really like this idea :) I will be trying this with my little one this weekend.


  3. i love the results as well as the process. my son would really enjoy this although I am not sure that the foil would stand up to his enthusiasm. Definitely one I’ll be trying, thanks for sharing.

  4. I have learn several just right stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create this kind of magnificent informative web site.
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  5. You never know! A couple of mine were pretty “enthusiastic” and they held up fine! Plus, if the foil wrinkles and crumples? That just adds to the uniqueness of it!

  6. I tried this with my twins and they loved it although great idea to join it to the construction paper!
    Love the pics!

  7. Love this Sheryl! Foil adds a really cool sensory component that crinkles and shines. Thanks! Kristi

  8. How wonderful!! It looks like so much fun. We will definitely have to give this a try. Thank you for sharing it at Sharing Saturday! I hope you will join us again next week!

  9. Love this! Fabulous results! I’ll be tackling this with my 3 year old this week (I have tried it in the past, but I think she was too young). Thanks for sharing!
    Also, I’m your newest follower. Please feel free to stop by my blog and have a look around. Have a great week! ~ L.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What kind of soap do you add, why . . . and about how much?

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