This Could Be the Safest Finger-Paint Ever

I recently had a teacher ask about art projects for the very young, particularly young two’s.  She was especially concerned with the safety factor, as the little ones have a tendency to try to eat what they’re working with.  I have a long list of suggestions for her, but I’ll share just one with you now!

The first project that came to mind was finger-painting!  This finger-paint recipe is fantastic!  It’s so easy and made from ingredients that are safe enough to eat — but it doesn’t taste great, so I doubt they’d try more than once.  (Though as soon as I say that, some little child somewhere will eat an entire container of this like it was yogurt.  Oh well, like I said, it’s safe.)

Cornstarch Finger-Paint

3 Tbsp sugar

½ cup cornstarch

2 cups cold water

Coloring

Liquid Soap

Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a sauce pan.  Add the water and mix well.  Cook over med-low heat, stirring all the time, until thick, about 5 minutes.  (To me, it looks almost like Vaseline.)  Remove from the stove, cool, and pour into containers (muffin tins are great for a variety of colors).  Add a little food coloring or liquid watercolors to each cup and then a drop or two of soap to help with the washability.  (Liquid watercolors are ideal, as they are more washable, though food coloring is pretty safe once it is fully mixed into the paint solution.)  Mix well and paint when cool!  If making the night before, store in the refrigerator.

One thing I like to do with this recipe is to make it without any color, and put about 1/4 a cup or so in plastic bags.  Then I let the children mix in the color by working the *well-sealed* bag.  It’s particularly exciting to let the children choose two primary colors and mix it all together until a secondary color is formed.

Finger-painting can be done on paper plates, poster board, or art paper.  For many young children, however, finger-painting is about the experience and exploration, not about making something to be displayed on a refrigerator or bulletin board.  So you may even want to do finger-painting right onto art trays or the table top.  If you do finger-painting on a table top or tray, you can always do a reverse print by pressing paper onto the paint and lifting it again to reveal the design!

This is a great creative sensory activity, while also working fine motor skills.  And if they happen to lick their fingers.  No problem!

Top photo by NecoGarnica.

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15 Comments

Filed under Create, Learning through Play and Experience

15 Responses to This Could Be the Safest Finger-Paint Ever

  1. Michele

    I saved some old corn starch (I finally found some organic corn starch for eating!) and now I know what to do with it. Thanks!

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  3. Alicia Knight

    Freezer paper is great for finger painting. It’s cheap and strong enough to stand up to being saturated with finger paint.

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  6. jason

    what a sick thread.. You think soap is safe to eat? This thread tantamounts to child abuse and should be removed.

    • notjustcute

      Perhaps you misunderstood. This isn’t food. I’m simply making the point that if you want to have your toddler fingerpaint, which is great for developing sensory and fine motor skills, your typical toddler will end up with a little bit in his/her mouth. For me personally, I would prefer a batch of this homemade stuff to a mystery concoction from the factory. The 1-2 drops of liquid soap could be omitted, or you can use a natural, safe soap of your choosing. Should children get some of this in their mouths, it wouldn’t be more soap than they likely get during bathtime.

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  8. Stace

    hey thks for the tip which i came across while searching for safe paints to buy :P i am definitely goin to try this. question: if i intend to keep the artwork.. will the “sugar” in the finger paint attract ants? :P
    or can i omit the sugar in the recipe? thks!

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  10. mom2toddler

    not sure why sugar is added. soap not a bad idea, would taste nasty..
    I wouldnt sweeten it up to make it smell or taste good.
    Like coolade or jello mix. Trying to get them
    to not eat it is hard enough :-)

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  12. Tia

    Thank you for this recipe! I am a child development major and plan on being a preschool teacher someday, so this will be a great recipe to have under my belt! I also have a 10 month old niece and plan on making some for her to play with. I love the idea of having her play with it on her high chair and pressing a paper onto it to keep the art. I don’t think I am going to add soap, just to be cautious with a very little one.

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