Mixing It Up: Art Parties For Kids

Lisa Poisso canvasses the fun to be found in turning the mess around.

Messy art possibilities are endless, and backyards are an ideal setting for this type of activity. ‘Paint-stomping’ is a favourite.

Why not make the birthday party mess the main event? Messy parties give kids a chance to let go and enjoy themselves, and a little preparation ensures a surprisingly narrow path of destruction.

The preschool-to-lower-primary age group love messy art parties. Give kids oversized T-shirts to wear over their clothes (or ask them to bring one with them to the party), let them loose with bowls, buckets and spray bottles of water-based paint, and let the good times roll.

Kids like to get messy, but most of the time, we tell them not to. But if you plan an hour or so of messy activities and set up everything beforehand, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s different – and they love it.

  1. ‘Paint-stomping’ is a favourite. Get the children to walk through aluminium-foil lasagne pans full of paint and then stomp down long strips of butcher’s paper (they need to be careful stepping in and out of the paint pans – it’s squishy and slippery!).
  2. Tape more butcher’s paper to the side of the house, the shed, the fence or whatever, and let the kids loose with spray bottles filled with diluted paint.
  3. Toss inexpensive plastic drop cloths over a few card tables, fill some big bowls with glue, give each child paper or canvas, and let them go wild ‘glopping’ on shredded paper, cotton balls, beans, glitter, feathers and more.
  4. Spread another drop cloth over the lawn with some blank canvases on top of it. Arm party-goers with cups of paint and thick paintbrushes and then stand back while they fling, flick, and dribble—it’s a take-home Jackson Pollock.

Toddlers appreciate even simpler activities.

Spread an old sheet or shower curtain on the grass, empty a few bags of flour on top of the children’s clothing that you don’t want them to get dirty, and let them roll, sift, pour, whip off and shuffle to their hearts’ content.

The best part: roll up the drop cloths and wash it all down at the end—the simplest party (or holiday fun) clean-up ever!