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Microwave Puffy Paint

Sweet Pea is 4 years old.


From:  I think I saw this first on One Crafty Mumma and then later found some variations at Housing a Forest, Mommy Labs, and Making Memories with Your Kids.


  • 1/2 cup Self-rising flour (If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can substitute 1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tsp baking powder).
  • 1/2 cup Salt. (You may want to try 4 tsp instead. See the Notes from the Trenches below for more info.)
  • About 3/4 cup water. (You will need just enough to make a smooth paste.)
  • 1 medium bowl.
  • 1 spoon.
  • 3 or 4 small bowls (For each different color of paint).
  • Liquid water colors or food coloring.
  • Cardboard (cut from old cereal boxes, etc).
  • Paintbrushes (or use squeeze bottles as described at House a Forest).
  • Bowl of water for rinsing the paint brush.
  • Paper towels for drying the paint brush.
  • Smock or bib for your tot.


  • Combine the self-rising flour with the salt in the medium bowl and then stir in the water until you have a smooth paste.
  • Divide the mixture into the smaller bowls.
  • Add a different color of liquid water color to each of the small bowls and stir until you have achieved a uniform color.
  •  Let your tot paint on the pieces of cardboard.
  • Make sure to show your tot how to rinse and dry the paint brush between colors. (Otherwise the added water will cause the paint to become too thin and it won’t puff up in the microwave).
  • After your tot has finished a painting, cook it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.   Keep an eye on it.  If your put the paint on especially thick, it will need to cook for longer before it totally dries.

Observations:   Before I did this activity, I was under the impression that the paint would “puff” a lot as it cooked.  However, I found that the paint goes on fairly thick so it was already mostly “puffed” before we cooked it.  The first photo shows the paint wet, and the second photo shows what it looked like after it was microwaved.  I don’t know why some of the flowers grew so much more (i.e. that red one with the green center) than others.

Sweet Pea really enjoyed this technique and created several pictures.

She was very proud of her rainbow.  🙂

Sweet Pea was totally engaged and was especially fascinated by the hard texture of the paint after it came out of the microwave.

This activity required a bit of prep, but was a lot of fun and I definitively recommend it for a wide variety of ages.

Notes from the Trenches: Our paintings turned out fine, but I thought our paint was very thick and gloppy.  Some of the other recipes called for less salt and if I had to do it over again, I would use the recipe from Housing a Forest which called for only 2 tsp of salt per 1/4 cup of flour.

We used heavy paper instead of cardboard for this because I was lazy, but that was a mistake.  The paint caused the paper to wrinkle and become so heavy and wet that it was difficult to carry to the microwave.

Rating: 3 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Frugal)


5 comments to Microwave Puffy Paint

  • We tried the puffy paint today and had loads of fun! My son is almost 3..he mixed the salt, flour, water and food coloring himself..and was amazed 🙂 the painting turned out quite puffy but doesn’t really show on the pics. His friend who is 8 enjoyed the whole process too. I am going to blog about it next Friday;
    Thnx for the great idea

  • It almost makes me want to get a microwave. The flowers look so pretty!

  • Laura

    I did this project with my daughter who is 3 and her friend who just turned 2. They had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the new medium to paint with. We do arts and crafts every day and it was nice change. I found that the more baking powder that you add to the paste the more it will puff in the microwave. Thanks for the great idea!

  • Arlene

    Cute idea. I recommend buying a bunch of paint brushes and having one for each color…yo won’t be adding water to the paint…no water bowl to tip over…etc.

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