Painting with Straws in Preschool

Blown straw painting kids

Make gorgeous drips and swirling designs by painting with straws. This is a wonderful preschool art activity, but fun for all ages.

straw blown painting preschool

painting with straws preschool

Materials: Straw Blown Painting

  • Watercolor paper or card stock — we used 8.5 x 11 card stock from the office supply store. A heavier weight paper will do a good job absorbing the paint and water.
  • Liquid watercolors. We like to use Sax Concentrated Liquid Watercolors from Amazon. They’re washable and non-toxic.
  • Eye droppers or pipettes. If you don’t have a pipette, you can forage your medicine cabinet for a medicine dropper.
  • Straws
  • Tray to hold the paper. This keeps the paint from blowing all over the table
  • Paper towels, sponge, or towels. Optional, but you won’t regret this insurance policy

squeeze paint onto paper

Blow Painting Steps

  1. Set up a tray with a heavy sheet of paper
  2. Place a few bowls filled with a bit of liquid watercolors nearby. Place a pipette in or next to the watercolors.
  3. Invite your child to draw watercolor paint into the dropper and then squeeze it on the paper.
  4. With a straw, blow the paint around the paper.

blow painting preschool


Experiments and Extensions

  • Once your child has had enough paint blowing, add a brush and invite him or her to paint
  • Test regular narrow straws against fat milkshake straws. Which works better? Our favorite was the fat straw.
  • After the paint blowings have dried, add another layer of paint blowings with different colors
  • Fold in half and turn your paintings into cards. See 40 Homemade Cards that Kids can Make for ideas.
  • Dip the end of a straw into tempera paint and then use it as a stamp. Watch Art Tips and Tricks: 5 Non-traditional Painting Tools to see this in action.

straw blown painting

Bubble Painting

“There are no failures, just experiences and your reactions to them.”

Tom Krause, Author and Motivational Speaker

What follows is my pitch for attempting the unknown for the sake of having a new experience, and maybe the end result will match your expectations. Or not. Either way, you’ve tried something new.

Aren’t these pretty? These are the result of a moderately failed experiment in bubble painting. The failure isn’t evident, is it?

I started with a mixture of tempera paint (red with a little silver), dish soap, and a little bit of water to make it runny.

Whole Foods dish soap is apparently great for dishes, but truly terrible for making good suds. If you’re up for this project, Dawn or Joy are most likely the way to go for a bowl full of bubbles. Mine fell flat. I’ll try this again for sure, and will be sure to share the winning recipe. That was the first failure, but here comes one that’s even bigger.

Can you guess what happened here? We poured the mixture into a little bowl, and then after a little demonstration, I instructed my daughter to blow. Out. Don’t suck it in. It’s not a drink. Don’t forget to blow OUT.

“Oh no, is that red paint all over your FACE?” I’m the worst mom ever! Wash it out. Check the bottle. Phew, it’s non-toxic. Ack!

She did great for the first five minutes of blowing, but then just forgot what she was doing. Totally understandable. She’s only two, after all. And sometimes I forget that.

MaryAnn Kohl has a good suggestion in Preschool Art, which I wish I had read beforehand: Pierce a hole near the top of the straw to keep your child from sucking paint into their mouth.

After that short, freaky interlude, we resumed Project Bubble Paint. From this point forward, I was responsible for blowing bubbles.

And they make for delightful gift tags, don’t you think?

Do you have a good bubble paint recipe?