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Magic Paint Bag

Sweet Pea is 29 months old.


From: This was recommended by my friend Lori.  It is similar to the Magic Paint Bag activity in the book First Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl, although I think this version works better.



  • Lay an 18 inch sheet of Press’n Seal on the counter.
  • Spread about 1/4 cup of craft paint onto the Press’n Seal.




  • Lay another 18 inch sheet of Press’n Seal directly on top of the paint.
  • Press the outside edges of the sheets together to create  a “bag”.
  • Fold 1 inch of the bag’s edge over onto itself.  Repeat for the 3 other edges..


  • Securely tape all 4 edges down.
  • Flip the Magic Paint Bag over and use your hand to spread the paint evenly inside the entire “bag”.
  • Sit next to your tot and demonstrate how to drag your finger across the “bag” to create a mark.
  • Next show your tot how to erase the mark by gently dragging your entire hand across the “bag”.
  • Let your tot try.

Observations: I tried making a Magic Paint Bag 3 times before I ended up with one that worked the way I wanted.  The activity described in the First Art book suggests just putting a few tablespoons of paint in a Ziploc bag and then taping that to something sturdy.  I had a couple of problems when I tried that.  The first time, I used powdered tempura paint which left little dry bits behind when I tried to make a mark.  I tried again with regular craft paint, but I noticed that the writing on the ZipLoc bag really interfered with being able to see the marks in the paint.  Also, the paint marks made in Ziploc bag don’t last very long.  The paint would just spread out again very quickly.

Not easily deterred, I took a suggestion from my friend Lori and used the Press’n Seal method with regular craft paint.  This worked much better on all counts.

Sweet Pea was fascinated as I assembled the “bag” and couldn’t wait to play with it.   When I put it down in front of her and showed her how to make a mark, she was very excited.


She sat down and made several marks before grabbing the bag and running into the kitchen.  She yelled, “Done!  Put on fridge!” as she searched frantically for a magnet strong enough to hold up a quarter cup of paint.  I quickly calculated how much effort I had put into making this paint bag and weighed it against the certain hysteria that was sure to follow any demonstration on the concept of re-using it.

You will not be surprised to learn that I decided to wait to destroy her precious creation.  I removed the bag at nap time and erased her work.  I presented it again the next day but,  of course, I got the exact same reaction.  Sweet Pea refused to use the bag more than once and again insisted that we hang her painting on the fridge.

I had planned to use this to show her how to draw different letters, but for obvious reasons, that didn’t work out.

Notes from the Trenches: I had a serious lapse in judgment and didn’t think about taping the edges down before I decided to test my creation.  I firmly pressed my index finger to the bag and started pulling it towards myself.  Satisfied by how clearly I was making a mark, I quickly pulled my finger all the way to the edge of the bag where quite a large dollop squirted out, across the table and all over my shirt.   Oops.

Also, my friend Lori warns that the bag will burst eventually and that it should not be used unattended or over carpet or in nice clothes, etc.

Rating: 4 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Independent, Frugal)


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