Toddler Big Art: Fingerpainting with Foil and Feathers

One morning this weekend we decided to finger paint.  I wanted a different canvas than our typical butcher paper for the twins to experience, and after seeing all the lovely foil painting activities floating around on Pinterest lately, I thought we’d give it a try.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

I like giving the twins large canvases to paint on so that they have lots of freedom of movement, so I stepped into the garage to see what I could find.  Luckily, I had a 24″ x 36″ thin plywood board left over from another project, so I quickly wrapped that in a few sheets of foil, taped down the overlap, and voila- a sturdy canvas.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

In an attempt to contain the mess, I fetched an old sheet of my grandmother’s that I like to use for play fort building and indoor picnics.  The bold print makes me happy and brings back memories of when I was a child- my brother and I would spread it over an AC vent in Granny’s floor, weigh down the edges with books, and let it fill up with air and make a giant bubble house to hang out in when the air kicked on.  Hopefully the bright pattern will make the twins reminisce of happy times someday, too!

But I digress. After clipping the edges of the sheet to the windowsills in our dining room, I draped it down the wall and across the floor and then leaned the plywood against the wall.  I put a rag rug down on the sheet to define where I wanted the twins to sit while they “worked,” and it seemed to help keep them in one place throughout the activity.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

And then the fun could begin.  The actual setup took about 10 minutes, total, and I was flying by the seat of my pants the entire time!  My son was super excited to get out the finger paint- he seems to have a renewed interest in messy play/art right now after going through a short phase of not liking his hands to get dirty.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

I started by giving each child a squirt of red paint on a paper plate.  I wanted them to experience painting with one color first to get their rhythm before introducing any more colors. Also, it seems to help the activities last longer when I can dole out the colors one by one instead of inundating the twins with choices all at once.  Learning by living, that’s what we are doing here!

While their first strokes were timid, they quickly got into their “groove.”

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

 Poor Sydney had coughed all night the night before, but was still a willing participant in the madness. What a trooper!

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

Next I introduced green, which mixed with the red and turned into a nasty brown color after a few minutes.  Before introducing the blue, I was pleased to find that I could wipe the brown paint right off the foil with a paper towel to give the twins a clean canvas, which they appreciated.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

I love this picture.  Will loves the color blue, and at this moment was reaching up in the air saying, “Blue. Sky!”  Yes, angel, the sky is blue.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

On a whim, I decided to introduce a few feathers towards the end of the session to see what would happen.  Although they were intrigued, the twins got a little frustrated with the feathers when they stuck in the paint on their hands.  Will painted with a feather for a few minutes (unprompted by me) and then followed Sydney’s example of sticking some on the foil.

It was interesting to me to step back and compare the twins’ paintings side by side. Will’s was compact, a large, thick blob around a center point, because he primarily liked to load his hands with as much color as possible and then slap them joyfully on the foil in roughly the same vicinity each time. I think he enjoyed the noise his hands made just as much as the prints that resulted.  Sydney, on the other hand, had a different style- she dipped her fingers into the paint carefully and then made large, wide marks across her side of the canvas, squiggling her fingers and really experimenting with different ways to paint.

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

This activity provides stimulation in multiple areas of development.  But what I loved most was just sitting back and letting them be and explore the paint however they chose.  Looking back through the photos, they just scream “joy” and “life” to me, which is exactly what I was hoping for.  Even if someone (ahem) decided to take the mess to a whole new level 😉

Fingerpainting with on Foil at Twodaloo (

*From my Instagram feed…follow me here for daily play snapshots!


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  1. This is wonderful!! I love that you introduced the colors one by one to extend the play time. Great idea! I definitely will be trying with my girls!

  2. This looks like an amazingly fun mess!! Thanks so much for linking up to Share It Saturday last week. I’m featuring you this Saturday. :)

    • Stephanie says:

      Yay! We have all been under the weather for the past few days, so this made my day 😉 Thank you!

  3. This is soooo fabulous!! I’ll be featuring your post as part of my Ways To Have Happy Kids roundup from the Weekly Kids’ Co-op. Thanks for sharing. xoxo P

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  1. […] 1. Farm Painting    2. Flour-based Body Paint   3. Fingerpainting on a Giant Foil Canvas […]

  2. […] Go big!  My toddlers really enjoy art activities that involve large motor movements- Jamie from Hands on: as we grow refers to this as “big art” and has lots of ideas for involving toddlers’ whole bodies in the process.  Whenever I can I use a super-sized canvas  for art projects such as this foil painting activity. […]