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:
Edible Cornstarch Finger Paint
Be inspired by zillions of art and craft activities here!
Okay, these look like they would smell delicious! What a wonderful sensory painting experience. Love the colous too. Thanks for the idea. I’m pinning it!
Sweet!!! Love this idea. Is my 10mo too young? How old is Bean?
Cristina Costa says
Hi Anna! Greetings from Lisbon!
This looks like another great paint for my litle Gabriel, but I would like to ask you for your opinion on a concern I have.
It´s been the second time I try paiting with my Gabriel who is now 17 months.
First time he looked like he was enjoing it, and “painted” for 20 hole minutes. Then suddenly refused.
This second time today he didn´t even wanted to touch the paint or the paper. Looked frightnened and confused with touching the paint. The paint was not hot, he was not hungry, not sick. Just a regular afternoon.
How can I stimulate him to enjoy this activity?
Hi I just want to say I love this website with all my heart, it has helped me so much as sometimes I have felt stuck in what to do and it has made me think up ideas too.. My little boy (nearly 1 year) loves smearing his porridge and watching it make shapes and moving it around, I might try adding some food colouring to porridge and just let him have somewhere he can be messy with it and just enjoy the smearing different colours together.
If it works well are we able to post things on here too?
Thank you again for all the great ideas
meri cherry says
This is going to be one of the activities for play group this Friday. I am going to do it outside, body paint style. I may try it on a bed of bubble wrap so the babies have something cushy to lay on. So excited! Thanks for the great recipe and inspiration!
I love your website! You’re extremely talented and creative 🙂 thanks for sharing all these fantastic ideas. Inspired #
What a great idea!!! Fun, inexpensive, and wonderful for development too. Can’t wait to try this with my little ones. At what age would you recommend trying something like this?