Picture of a mum painting with her children

Mess Free Painting activity

Lizz Banks
Authored by Lizz Banks
Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 19:28

We don’t mind a messy painting activity in our house, but there are some times where I really don’t fancy having to hose down the children and kitchen after a painting session. This painting activity is a much quicker activity for children to do if you’re are short of time (but it can take a bit longer to set up) and creates hardly any mess at all. The magic ingredient of this activity, which enables it to be ‘mess free’, is cling film!

What you will need?

  • Paper, I try to use a big roll of paper to get one big surface area.
  • Paints
  • A pen or pencil
  • Cling film
  • Sellotape

What you need to do:

  • Take your big piece of paper and lay it on a hard surface. I always stick it down onto our table so it doesn’t move about.
  • Pour paint onto the paper. You can do this is any way you choose, you could do lots of dots across the page, big smears or in different shapes. You need to put a decent amount of paint on the paper so it can be spread about easily. (see the ‘Adaptations’ bit below to find some ideas that my children really enjoy.).
  • Carefully lay the clingfilm over the top of the whole sheet of paper, being careful not to smudge or move the paint. I normally Sellotape the clingfilm down to, to avoid it moving about.
  • Let your children have fun! You can show them how they can move the paint about by touching it through the cling film. I have created a great youtube video (at the bottom of the article) where you can see my children doing the activity.


Adaptations you can make to this activity:

  • My daughter loves rainbows, so I dotted the paints out in the shape of a rainbow and she was able to connect the dots to make a rainbow.
  • Learning about shapes. You can draw shapes onto the paper, then put a big dollop of paint inside the shape. Your child can then fill in the shapes, whilst you talk about what shape they are and how they look.
  • Learning about letters. Similar to learning about shapes above, you can write letters on the paper, then put dots of paint over the letter, so the children can join the dots to write the letters (or numbers). When your child knows their letters you could write simple words, or their name, for them to trace over.
  • Involve their favourite toys in the activity. Now, cling film isn’t super strong, but a few big wheeled cars, balls, or soft plastic toy animals could be a great way to move the paint around.
  • For younger children, who may not be ready to sit up at the table, you could simply use a plastic wallet or a zip lock bag for this activity. As long as you are able to seal the bag so the paint can’t escape you should be fine.


I hope that your children have as much fun doing this as mine do! The tidy up for this activity is worth it alone, as your children can simply get down (unless they have made a sneaky hole in the clingfilm and got to the paint…) and you can just unstick the paper, roll it up and dispose of it easily!

Mess free painting activity for children

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