Art Start Challenge | Day 1

art start challenge | day 1

Welcome to Day 1 of the Art Start Challenge

I’m sooooo excited that you’re here. #fistbump This challenge will take you on a high-paced family creative adventure into process-focused art-making. If you have young children between the ages of 2 and 7, and you’re looking for simple and engaging art projects that won’t break the bank, you’re in the right place! Welcome.

If you haven’t already joined our dedicated Art Start Facebook group, click on over here and ask to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/artstartchallenge

We have lots to cover, and I know you’re ready, so let’s dive in…

How this will work

Each day you will receive an email that links you to a set-up for an invitation to create. We will refer to these set-ups as prompts because once the materials are up, you will invite your child to create with very few additional instructions. Our goal is to encourage children to embrace imagination, problem solve, and use critical thinking skills. Toward that end, there is no road map, no wrong answers, and a whole lot of saying “yes” to experiments and inventive thinking.

Today’s Task

It’s important to step back and give your child room to create independently, with minimum input. We want children to think like artists and inventors, and to do that we will allow them to make choices, problem solve, wonder, act on their curiosities, and tap into their imaginations. Cookie cutter projects that encourage children to copy a model may help children learn a new technique or to follow directions, but if we want to help children think creatively, it’s important to give them time and space to think independently.

Here are some tips for today:

  1. Invite your child to create with this open-ended question: “what can we create with these materials?”
  2. Make objective comments about what you observe such as “I see that you’re experimenting with the paint in a new way” or “I notice you mixed the blue and yellow paint together.”
  3. Make your own art and experiments nearby or collaborate, thereby creating “side-by-side” art, which is a great way to inspire a child’s own creativity to flourish.

Prompt: Absorbent Paper Magic

art start challenge | day 1


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  • Coffee Filters, white paper Doilies, Paper Towels, or other absorbent paper
  • Liquid watercolors, watercolor paint, or food coloring ((shown here, our favorite liquid watercolors)
  • Brushes or Pipette (medicine dropper)
  • Water Bowl
  • Rag
  • Newspaper, newsprint, or other absorbent paper
  • Large Tray (like a cookie sheet)

Easy Watercolor and Doily Art | TinkerLab


  • Contain the mess! Be sure to use a cookie sheet or tray with walls beneath the painting area.
  • Invite your child to separate doilies or coffee filters — this is a fun challenge and great for fine motor development.
  • Line a tray with newspaper, paper bags, or paper towels to soak up the extra paint.
  • Place a few coffee filters or doilies on the paper and set up paints nearby.
  • Invite your child to paint, dip, and pour.

Invitation to Create

  • Invite your child to create with this open-ended question: “what can we create with these materials?”
  • If you’re using a pipette or medicine dropper, demonstrate how to use it by placing it in the paint, squeezing it, and then letting go to suck the paint up into its channel. Remove the pipette from the paint and then squeeze over your absorbent paper.
  • You could set up two trays and make your own experiments or create side-by-side on the same tray. Modeling self-expression and joy with art experiences can help your child understand that this is an activity that you value.
  • A note on side-by-side making: It’s important for your child to own his or her own ideas, interpretations, and mistakes. Don’t be tempted to make art for your child as this will send a message that you can do it better and that you don’t trust your child to make creative choices.

Young Children

art start challenge | day 1

Young children (2-4) may find pipettes difficult to use. Here are some alternatives:

  • Offer a paintbrush instead of a pipette.
  • Set up doilies or flattened coffee filters alongside stickers and/or markers. Invite your child to make marks on the paper. See Drawing on Doilies for more on this topic.

Extend it!


With Tape and Scissors. If you have extra doilies or filters, offer your child a pair of scissors, colorful piece of paper, and tape to create a doily collage masterpiece (see photo above)

Paper Flowers. When the paint dries, cinch up the coffee filters into flowers and twist with a pipe cleaner.

See Coffee Filter Flowers for more details.


Sometimes it’s helpful to see similar materials interpreted throughout history or by artists. You can look at these references ahead of time if you’re curious for further ideas. If you have elementary-aged children, they may also be interested in the information shared in these links.

  1. History of the Crocheted Doily
  2. Contemporary Artist Lourdes Sanchez plays with overlapping layers of watercolor and intersecting areas of color to create abstract and etherial images.

Share with our supportive community

Learning from other families who are going through this, swapping stories, and celebrating wins is one of my favorite parts of this challenge. Share what you created today in our Facebook group! Upload pictures of your art table and Art Start creationsthe Art Start Facebook group. on Instagram, or on the TinkerLab Facebook fan page.

TAG @tinkerlab | #artstartchallenge

Journal Reflection

Journaling is a key component of our mini art-making challenge and I think you’ll enjoy taking time for yourself, to dig into what you care about when it comes to making art, and how you can be supported on this journey.

Find a few minutes today to jot down your thoughts below or click on this link to see them on a new page. Your responses will be emailed to you right away. 

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See you tomorrow!

Your creative collaborator,

art start challenge | day 1