I’m a big fan of making rather than buying, especially when it comes to playtime staples like play dough and paint. Martha Stewart I am not—trust me—but this stuff is CRAZY EASY to make. As in, you already have everything in your kitchen and it takes minutes to whip up.
Case in point: Puffy paint.
Sure, you can grab a few bottles from your local craft store, but why waste your money? Throw some kitchen essentials in a bowl (which your toddler can help measure and stir) and voila! Puffy paint.
And not only is it an alternative art idea, but kids can use it as a sensory activity—tracing puffy letters and numbers with their fingers.
Here’s the tutorial:
½ cup flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
About 1/3 cup water
Food coloring (I use the high-pigment food coloring gels found in craft stores)
1. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl (preferably one with a spout) and mix well.
2. Add just enough water to make a thick paint-like paste, without it being too watery.
3. Mix in food coloring, to your preference. (If you’re making a bigger batch and want multiple colors, separate the paint mixture into different bowls before adding color.)
4. Pour the paint into a re-sealable plastic baggie and snip off the very tip. (I secured the top with a small elastic band.) If you want your puffy paint to keep for a while, you might want to buy some squeeze bottles from a craft or dollar store.
5. Let the kids go to town, squeezing puffy paint on a piece of cardboard or extra-thick paper.
6. Pop the masterpiece in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds and see it harden instantly.
Note: I use this recipe for one child, so you might want to double it for multiple kids/multiple batches. Play around with it!