Painting outdoors with toddlers

Arlo absolutely loves painting, and playing with colours. He hasn’t stopped talking about the snow painting activity we did and every morning he looks out of the window checking for snow. We do of course get our messy play materials out indoors but there’s nothing better than having a giant canvas outdoors. Unfortunately the snow has all gone, but I had an idea and thought we’d kick half term off with something big.

You will need:

  • An old sheet
  • Washing line and clothes pegs
  • Squeezy condiment bottles
  • Water based paint
  • Mark making tools (the broom is optional)

I filled the bottles, using a generous squeeze of paint and topping them up with water before giving them a good shake. This was a very cold day and so my top tip is to use warm water for this. We’ve been playing with neon and glow in the dark colours recently but this is a great activity to try with the three primary colours for mixing and experimenting.

Arlo attacked the sheet with vigour at first, splashing and squeezing the bottles but not long after we began he decided to fetch the broom himself and squeeze colours on to it to apply his colours to the sheet. The wind was strong but this made it all the more fun. He spent quite a while running through the sheet with the broom and laughing at the splashes of colour. I think he was playing at jousting but at this point in time I was taking cover.

The best thing about this activity is that because we have used watered down water based paints, after we have finished I can pop the sheet in the wash and re-use over and over again.

We have been playing with neon colours as part of our light and dark theme recently – check out how we played with dyed chick peas indoors here

Rainbow Snow Activity

I’ve never seen Arlo have quite as much fun as we did today. We’ve been lucky enough to have lots of snow recently and last night it was coming down thick and fast so I decided to put together this activity for the morning.

You will need:

  • Water based poster paint
  • Water
  • Condiment bottles

All you need to do is add a small amount of paint in to a bottle and fill it up with water. Shake them well and then let loose on the snow.

The spray bottles lasted a lot longer than the squeezey bottles which I topped up a couple of times. We started off tentatively with the primary colours – testing out mixing the sprays to make new colours and trying to be a bit educational – also utilising those hand muscles too.

Then we went crazy with the spray bottles – flinging the paint around and making rainbow colours in the snow – Arlo enjoyed making circles by spinning around.

We invented a new game by address my colours to snow balls and then throwing them to make some really cool splats on the garden shed.

We built a snowman together in the garden and he got his own technicolour coat to match Arlo’s – here’s a short video which shows how our morning went:

For more of our snow and ice activities click below

Construction challenge with ice

I have been filling the tuff tray with water every night in the hope that it will freeze over, as I wanted to make a giant version of this Ice skating messy play tray. Today we managed to get a thick enough sheet of ice to play with – first things first we did some stomping to break the ice up.

Then taking care with the pieces we stacked them up to build a structure. I helped with a basic square shape and then Arlo decided to add in an extra room and a roof to the structure before finding animals to inhabit the space.

It was easy enough to stand up the ice as we had a couple of inches of snow to play with and set up on top of a random hay bale we have in the garden . Arlo ran around the garden fetching his diggers and other tools to continue the big build. His major architectural achievement came from adding in a slide for his penguins.

This was the perfect little small world Antarctic which provided lots of outdoor amusement. We ended up getting a couple of bowls of water to create a water slide and then a tiny little jacuzzi for the polar bears before heading back to our ice cream mud kitchen for more outdoor play in the snow. Check out the short clip below to see how Arlo interacted with it all

Ice cream Mud Kitchen set up

We had snow last night and I knew Arlo would want to play outdoors and so I rummaged around the house trying to think about what we could do – and an ice cream station seemed like the best plan.

You will need:

  • Cups / tubs
  • Spoons
  • Scoops
  • Slime/foam for ice cream
  • Water beads for sprinkles

It’s as simple as this to set up….. as you can see it was freezing cold outside so I made up batches of slime and our water beads with warm water which helped keep his hands warm when playing – keeping him outside for longer. Whenever I create a station like this I always make up an example, demonstrating how he can interact with the invitation to play and also because it’s fun to join in.

Arlo has a variety of tools and resources he likes to use in the mud kitchen including a turkey baster, normal kitchen spoons and measuring scoops. I pick things up in the high street shops and supermarkets whenever I get the chance and have found that plastic is best for this just because they are durable if they get left outside and they are also easy to clean. We have had years of use from some of our items.

Arlo found pinwheels in the garden plant pots and chose to decorate his creations and then we had lots of “make believe” play discussing how delicious everything was before eventually deciding that we needed to have some real ice cream and sprinkles indoors.

The slime from Zimplikids and foam from Kids Stuff Crazy were previously provided as PR samples.