Here is an edible finger paint recipe that’s safe for babies and toddlers using scented jello powders. For a truly wonderful sensory experience that smells, tastes and feels fabulous, it’s a great first painting experience for little ones (and so easy to make too!)
It’s a been a long time since we first made our very popular homemade non-toxic finger-paints and it was time to try some new ones to give little Bean a go at sensory painting too! A little while ago we made some deliciously scented jello play dough and had lots of sachets of jello powder left over. Using lime, orange, strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant, we were able to easily create some scented and safe-to-taste fruit finger-paints, in under a minute! Just perfect for some spontaneous arty fun together without much preparation or materials needed.
Tip one sachet of each flavour fruit jello powder into a little dish (I eat and collect copious amounts of Gu puddings especially to turn their glass jars into paint dishes- it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!)
Our jello powder sachets were free from all additives and coloured and flavoured naturally with only fruits (for UK readers, the brand was Hartley’s.)
Stir in some hot (not boiling) water and mix with a spoon until it becomes thin enough to be like finger-paint consistency. As this is jello powder it becomes thick quite quickly, so we had to experiment with how much water to add in order for it not to set. I’d say we filed these little dishes about half full of water (around just under half a cup.) Start with one and then when you’re happy with the consistency, move onto the others. This can be part of the scientific investigation together!
Stir all of the paints again to keep them from setting, then set them out with a range of brushes and some large pieces of paper (which can be taped down to the table to keep them in place.)
Then explore with fingers and taste buds!
[Note: obviously babies shouldn't be encouraged to eat large quantities of this paint, but a few tastes are not harmful at all.]
The lovely, thick and gelatinous nature of the paints means that they are a fantastic consistency for finger-painting and smear onto the paper really well. They are lovely for pure sensory play too, exploring and testing to see what it can do. The smell of the fruits was wonderful and filled the room.
Bean really enjoyed using the brushes as she watches her sisters painting often and likes to be grown up like them. She covered the paper in marks and was sure to try out each and every flavour and colour.
Of course it wasn’t long before first the fingers and then the whole hands went into the dishes too, tasting each one and using her fingers to smoosh it onto the paper around in simultaneous circular movements. Being able to get up to their elbows in sensory play materials is fantastic for young children in their understanding and exploration of the world around them as it is the primary way that they engage with new experiences. And let’s face it, it’s just great fun too! This would be so much fun for whole body painting too!
The paints were easy to clean up and wash away. Where some had fallen on the table it had thickened and become sticky, but it wiped up with a cloth. Bean needed a bath of course, but as we did this mid-afternoon she didn’t have to wait too long. If you did it outside it would be even better as they could jump in the paddling pool straight afterwards or get hosed down right on the spot!
What they are learning as they play:
knowledge of the world: explore the world around them using all of the senses, investigate how things feel taste and smell
phse: try new experiences, work independently
creativity: make marks and pictures using paints
Bean: 16 mos
You may also like these other homemade paints:
Be inspired by zillions of art and craft activities here!