While children could paint with the adult-sized brushes and foam brushes you hand them, specialty tools designed for their young, small hands offer a more comfortable, less cumbersome option. Craft stores, educational supply shops and toy stores all offer individual painting tools or kits designed specifically for young artists-in-the-making. As with adult painting tools, some items are used to create specific shapes or designs, such as foam shape blotters or paint combs.
1. Foam Brushes and Daubers
Some foam brushes designed for children look much like any foam brush you could find in the paint department of a store, but in playful primary colors. Others feature smaller, wider handles for easier grip by a small hand. A foam blotter, sometimes called a dauber, is a conical or cylindrical bit of foam attached to the end of a stubby dowel. The end or top of the foam is a circle. These daubers are sold in sets of differently sized circles. With them, children can paint polka dots, dot borders, or use them as an easy way to paint a circle for a head, wheel or center of a flower.
Paint rollers designed for children are a bit more detailed than the standard paint roller you might use to paint a wall. These small rollers, often made of foam with a plastic handle, feature a textured surface that rolls out patterns such as stars or squiggles. Paint is poured into a paint tray, much like using a standard paint roller. The patterns seem to magically appear when the paint is rolled onto the project surface.
3. Feathers, Leaves and Organic Matter
Feathers and leaves create a different type of painting experience than the standard brush or fingerpainting methods. Feathers from a craft store, with the top ends dipped in paint, create a wispy paint effect that varies when parts of the feather are pushed together or separated. A highly textured leaf or sprig of pine needles covered with paint, then dabbed onto paper, creates an impression of the original object. Acorn tops, blades of grass, seed pods or other bits of organic matter found along a walk all add their own bit of style to a project when used as paint tools.
Comblike devices, similar to faux finishing combs, create their own textures when dipped into paint, then brushed across paper. These combs are available in children's paint and craft kits, or make your own from corrugated cardboard by cutting notches or teeth at one end of a piece of the cardboard. Encourage children to use different methods to apply paint with the comb: moving an arm straight across while painting, or dragging the comb up and down to create a wavelike pattern, for instance.
5. Trash and Toys
Anything bound for the recycle bin is a potential paint tool for children: caps from soda bottles, textured plastic bottles which can be rolled through paint, or disposable foam containers cut into shapes and used like stamps. Thick rubber band edges dipped into paint create ring shapes that vary depending on how the band is squeezed. Toys such as action figures create footprints across a painting when the toy feet are dipped in paint and applied to paper.
- Katy McDonnell/Digital Vision/Getty Images