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Modern Art with a Matchbox Car

Sweet Pea is 4 years old.

From: This activity was inspired by Deborah’s description of  an “oldie but goodie” on her excellent Teach Preschool blog.


  • Paper.
  • Jelly roll tray.
  • Kid’s craft paint
  • Small toy cars.
  • Smock or bib for your tot (optional).


  • Place a piece of paper on the jelly roll pan.
  • Let your tot select 2 colors of paint.
  • Pour a line of one color of paint along the side of the paper.
  • Pour another line of the different color paint down the opposite side of the paper.


  • Show your tot how to run the car through the paint and all over the paper.

  • Let your tot continue running the cars over the paper, adding more paint if necessary.

  • For better pictures, encourage your tot to drive the car over the entire sheet of paper until it is entirely covered with paint.

  • After the entire paper is coated, remove it from the pan and allow it to dry.
  • Clean the cars and then repeat with another sheet of paper and different colors of paint.

Observations:   This was a huge, huge success.  Sweet Pea wanted to “paint” multiple pieces of paper and we played together for about an hour before she was done.


I expected this to be more of an independent activity than it was, but it required a lot paint pouring, hand wiping, car cleaning and playing by me.  Sweet Pea had the most fun  making up stories about her car, often requiring me to “drive” a new car through the paint to rescue her “stuck” vehicles.  We had a blast!


I liked how putting different colors of paint on each side allowed us to talk about color mixing and discuss the new color that was created.   Limiting the paint to only 2 colors on each piece of paper helped to maintain a pleasing color scheme.   The “paintings” from this activity were surprisingly beautiful.  I thought a few of them would make a good grandparent gift and even qualify as displayable “modern art”.


And we had so fun!  This activity is highly, highly recommended for all tots.


Notes from the Trenches:   We tried having Sweet Pea dip her cars in paint and then roll them on the paper, but that didn’t work nearly as well as just pouring a line of paint on the paper.


Sweet Pea was extremely enthusiastic in her pretend play.   She liked crashing the cars into each other and this caused a some paint splatter.  I can imagine that a rambunctious child could create a huge mess.  I wouldn’t turn my back on this activity for too long.


In fact, one of the cars flew off of the tray so Sweet Pea got in some practical life practice as she cleaned the paint off of the wall.


Rating: 3 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Frugal – if you have a couple of toy cars around the house.)


Carnivals: Linked up to Art for Little Hands: Monday Madness and to It’s Playtime at hands on : as we grow.

10 comments to Modern Art with a Matchbox Car

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