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

Experimental Rainbows

I decided to try out a little science experiment with Arlo after seeing the idea float around Pinterest and this captured his attention for an hour – a parenting win!

You will need:

  • Food colouring
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Vinegar
  • Baking tray
  • Pipettes

To prepare all you need to do is add a few drops of colouring to each section of the baking tray and then cover with powder. I provided three pipettes with vinegar in a little bowl and only had to demonstrate what to do once.

First of all Arlo was happy to see the bubbles begin to emerge as soon as the vinegar touched the baking soda. I wasn’t quite sure how much I would need so used rather a lot and the colours didn’t appear at first.

As soon as the colours began to emerge Arlo’s interest peaked and this offered a new aspect to the activity – Arlo was using two pipettes at a time to make bigger explosions and find more colours.

It didn’t take too long for Arlo to figure out that the colours could be mixed and this bought us even more time to play with this tray of magic!

I consider this activity as a success HOWEVER … next time we will be doing this outdoors because the smell was extremely overpowering but we need more vinegar to make bigger bubbles! I’ve also heard that adding washing up liquid might create a better effect so we’ll be trying this out too!

Chase the rainbow Scavenger hunt

This is another super simple scavenger hunt, printed from the amazing Twinkle

Arlo really enjoyed hunting for bugs the first time we tried this on our daily exercise. I don’t have many bugs indoors but our home is full of random little objects so I needed a new idea.

Scavenger hunts help develop observational skills and build problem solving skills too. Along side looking for objects this is helping reinforce his knowledge of colours.

This time I laminated the colours work sheet to tick off and then I also created a treasure box – using an old egg carton – dabbing the colours in to the compartments so that any found objects could be saved and then discussed.

We have used this at home with random bits and bobs including buttons and Lego pieces, and also in the garden with flower petals which then inspired another variation to this simple idea.

Arlo always says that his favourite colour is “rainbows” and so we are going to use our daily exercise to chase rainbows and our task is to find something in every colour to bring home.