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Homemade Finger-paint

Sweet Pea is 43 months old.

From: I found this homemade finger-paint recipe at Not Just Cute.


  • Printer friendly version of this fingerpaint recipe. (This is a .pdf file and requires Foxit or Adobe Acrobat for viewing.)
  • Stove.
  • Saucepan.
  • 3 TBS sugar.
  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch.
  • 2 Cups cold water.
  • Containers for holding the finished finger-paint.
  • Liquid watercolor or food coloring.
  • Liquid dish soap.
  • Whisk.
  • Jelly roll tray or cookie sheet.  (Optional, but excellent at containing the mess).
  • Finger-paint paper.  (Proper finger paint paper is heavy and slick so that the paint slides across it smoothly without wrinkling the paper.  However you can use any type of paper or could even let your tot paint straight on the tray.  I have also heard that freezer paper is a good cheap alternative for finger-paint paper.)


  • Combine the sugar and cornstarch in the saucepan.
  • Pour the water over the sugar and cornstarch and mix thoroughly.
  • Cook over medium-low for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.

  • Remove from heat and a few drops of liquid dish soap and gently combine.
  • Let the mixture cool and then divide between containers.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to each container.

  • Stir and add more coloring as needed to reach the desired hue.
  • Put the paper in the jelly roll pan.
  • Set the materials in front of your tot and let them paint.

Observations: The finger-paint was much too thick at first.  It was clumpy and so sticky that the paper was lifting off of the tray when Sweet Pea tried to spread it across the page.

After thinning out the paint with some water, we achieved a somewhat better texture, but I think I may have added to much water and made it too runny.

Of course Sweet Pea loved this activity.  It was messy, hands-on and colorful.  I loved it far less than Sweet Pea, but I think finger-painting is one of those things that all tots should do so I would recommend it for a day when you are feeling adventurous.

Notes from the Trenches: Sweet Pea was napping while I made up our finger-paints, but if you want to include your tot more in the process, Not Just Cute has the really great idea of allowing your tot to mix coloring into the finger paint using a zip-lock baggie.

I am not sure if I would make my own finger-paints again.  I know it is more frugal, but Crayola finger-paints are easier, have a better texture and keep much longer than this homemade version.

Keep in mind that finger-painting is all about the sensory experience and not really about creating art.  When we were done, I just wadded up all the used finger-paint paper and threw it in the trash.

Rating: 3 Stars * (Fun, Independent, Frugal)

4 comments to Homemade Finger-paint

  • Jane Holley

    I made up a batch of this for my preschool Sunday school class. I prepared it as directed above, and it came out great! I couldn’t find finger paint paper at the store, so instead I used some inexpensive white poster board (cut down into approx. 11″ x 9″ sheets)- it has that nice glossy side to it, is heavy enough so the finger paint doesn’t soak through, and it came out to about 0.05 cents a sheet.

    • Shannon (admin)

      I’m glad that it turned out for you! I remember ours being a little too thick, but Sweet Pea did have a great time with it!

  • fun and awesome thing to do with kids they love it

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