Squirt Gun Painting with Kids
Summer has arrived and this means even more outdoor fun activities with our little ones! But, what to do with our creative little ones? The ones who want to create, draw, paint the entire day? Arts and crafts are great for creative kids, but sometimes art activities can tend to keep your little ones indoors more often than you’d like. If you are looking for a fun way to combine art and some family fun outside, look no further. Today, Creative Team member Tine Voeten, a European traveler and mother of two, is taking her kids’ art projects outside and sharing all about squirt gun painting with kids.
Painting is just another way of keeping a diary” – Pablo Picasso
The fun of squirt gun painting
Squirt gun painting is the perfect combination of two of our favorite summer activities: art and playing outside! We geared up with this combo in mind and took our squirt gun painting in the wild! Today, I’m here to share everything you need to know to get start squirt gun painting with your kids. This is a fun summer outdoor activity for kids that’s sure to entertain them for hours and make beautiful memories.
Why painting is healthy?
Everybody knows that the act of painting is relaxing. But, did you know that painting has many advantages to improve mental health and overall quality of life? Here’s a quick reminder of the benefits of painting:
- Painting stimulates creative growth. Not only creative people should paint. By painting, less creative people can stimulate their creative growth. Practice and focus allow people, young or old, to learn creative skills.
- It reduces stress and gives you the ability to cope with stress better.
- Painting sharpens the mind and improves memory through conceptual visualization.
- It cultivates emotional growth. Creating art helps kids and adults to express their emotions.
- Creating beautiful art through painting encourages a more optimistic approach to life.
- It builds problem-solving and helps develop fine motor skills in your child’s hands.
When you combine these advantages with going outdoors, this is a family activity that should be on every family’s monthly activity list! I am very sure it will become one of your top summer activities!
Squirt gun painting supplies
- Paint (tempera or liquid watercolors)
- Water squirt guns
- Funnel or a plastic bottle cut in half
- A big piece of plastic, preferably something you can reuse afterward (optional)
- Canvas or strong paper (poster board)
- Painters tape (optional)
All of your gear can be bought on a budget or repurposed from what you already have at home. We bought our squirt guns in a discount shop and they work perfectly. Same for the canvas we bought in the same shop. Everything else we already had at home.
What kind of paint to use for squirt gun painting?
You can use either tempera paint or liquid watercolor paint for squirt gun painting with kids. Both work just fine. However, I wanted to make sure our materials were all safe to use outdoors and easy to clean up. We opted for tempera paint, the most common natural, and child-friendly paint. Another advantage parents will appreciate is that it is easily washable from clothes and skin. Our choice was made!
Best squirt guns for painting
You don’t need fancy squirt guns for squirt gun painting. Actually, you probably want to go as cheap as possible on these because the paint may end up rendering them unusable for regular squirt gun play (although, we had no problem washing the paint out completely). We choose inexpensive squirt guns from a discount shop and they worked great for our purposes. Try to find ones with an easy trigger for your kids, especially if they’re really little. If you don’t want to have to wash out your squirt guns between each color, get a variety pack of squirt guns so that each squirt gun can contain its own color.
Squirt gun painting set up
Here’s the step-by-step tutorial on squirt gun painting with kids that covers everything you need to know to make this the most fun summertime outdoor art activity for kids.
Step 1: Prepare your squirt gun painting area
Protect your yard and nature
Whether you are water squirt gun painting in your own garden or on location (in the woods, on a hike), you may like to cover some of the delicate areas for paint drops. If you’re concerned about the paint staining or ruining a surface, you may want to take this activity onto the grass or protect the area under/behind the canvas with a large tarp or sheet of reusable plastic. Also, prepare a small table with a cover to put guns and paint down whenever you need to reload, without making a complete mess. And believe me, the first load of paint goes fast, thanks to the enthusiasm of our young ones.
Decide how to hang your canvas
If you have an outdoor easel, you can use it for the best result. You can also hang your canvas on the fence, a tree (like we did), or even just prop it up a bit.
Find the perfect squirt gun art location
We decided to go to a forest we love so much, located very near to our home. We took our water squirt gun painting gear with us as the sun was setting with the goal: create squirt gun paint art and have a blast! All packed with a bag full of guns, paint, another bucket of water, and a blanket/plastic to cover our work area, we took our chance to catch the most beautiful moment of the day.
We prepared extra paint and water in case the guns would empty fast. At home, all of our materials were ready to use. In the forest, we had to be a bit more creative when it came to setting everything up. In the end we put everything on a blanket in close range. It was perfect!
Step 2: Fill your water guns with paint
Once your area is set up for painting, you’ll want to make the paint and fill your squirt guns. We recommend using a funnel to help get the paint into the squirt guns to cut down on the spill and mess. You can also use plastic baggies to mix/make the paint and then snip off a corner and squeeze/squirt the paint into the gun. If the plastic stopper hinders your efforts, cut it off and then recap the squirt gun once the paint is in. Shake your guns well before using.
How to make squirt gun paint
Start with basic tempera paint. You’ll want to dilute your paint so that it’s not super thick and squirt/runs better on the canvas. The paint should be a 50/50 split between paint and water. You can either fill the squirt gun with the paint and then added water and shake it up. Or, you can mix the paint and water together (before putting it into the squirt gun) in a cup to get the right consistency. Either way works just fine! Use a funnel when pouring paint into the squirt gun.
Step 3: Squirt on the canvas
Once your water squirt guns are ready the game is on! Make sure every child has enough space to squirt his or her own canvas. And let them squirt all over. They will love it! The little artists can paint at close range, a technique that is easier for our younger kids. This gives a great effect on the canvas and on the child!
If your children know how to use the water gun, they can stay further away and fire paint across the garden.
When all the squirt gun painting is complete, let the canvas dry outside or in a safe space overnight (or until the paint is fully dry to the touch). Then bring it in to hang on the wall or give as a gift!
Different ways of squirt gun painting
There are so many fun and different ways to paint with squirt guns. There’s no right or wrong way to do it! Just have fun and create! Here are a few different ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Painting on the canvas with only a squirt gun (no attributes or anything else)
- Relief painting with tape and stickers – Add forms and figures on top of the canvas to create fun art when they’re removed. For example, use painter’s tape to make a shape or the first letter of your child’s name on a canvas. When the paint is dry, you can remove the stickers or tape gently. This results in the greatest birthday gifts for grandparents!
- One child standing in the front of the painting to squirt a silhouette. Canvas and paper might be too small, but this is great fun with a white sheet! Oh, and don’t forget to put on some play clothes, ready to get dirty!
Paint and create – watch the fun unfold
That focus when the children start pumping their guns! The enthusiasm when they paint squirts out of the guns onto the canvas! The astonishment of how fast the paint squirts onto it and the beauty of the colors when they spatter and drip all over the fabric! This is such an amazing activity for kids. My girls just couldn’t get enough of it. I suppose most of the time this will be the case with kids, so I advise you to bring some spare canvas with you. They wanted to create more and more!
Aisha, our oldest daughter was fully focussed on her art piece and kept adding layers till she was happy. Our youngest daughter, Sienna, decided to use her hand to let the colors blend even more. In the end, when she noticed there wouldn’t be any contrast on her painting, she decided to paint her nose instead! They were having so much fun!
Squirt gun painting trial and error
I have to admit, we first did a try-out of our squirt gun painting before we got it right. Doing a trial run (not on your canvas) is a step I highly recommend. First of all, it is just so much fun, so the extra squirt gun painting was entertaining. But also, this activity does require a bit of preparation (as we needed to find a spot in the woods to do this), so I’m glad we tried it out at home before hitting the trail with our gear.
We powered up in the garden and measured how much paint and water needed to be added to get the best result. Our trial check let us know that we added too much water the first time. This resulted in very pale-colored paint drops that didn’t even stick to the canvas at all. If this happens to you, no worries, you can always add more paint on the spot, if you bring your funnel and paint to your own outdoor art studio.
Clean up time
But exactly as it is at home, after the fun comes clean-up! In the forest, we made sure everything was in the same conditions as when we arrived there. We had enough water in the bucket to clean the paint in the area. All plastic we brought to the painting fiesta we of course took back home. Nothing was left behind.
And what did we win from this adventure? Lots of fun and in total four amazing paintings from the greatest artists in the house!
Have you ever squirt gun painted with your kids?
About the author
Tine is a natural-born adventurer from Belgium. She met her husband, soulmate, and the father of her two girls while working and living in the Dominican Republic. Nine years ago they moved back to Europe and are still exploring European grounds. Her happy place is wherever her kids are, but she spices up life by discovering unknown places, planning new adventures, and going outdoors as much as possible. Having kids added a big value to her life, because seeing life through the eyes of her little ones lifted it to a completely different dimension. Their family goal is to travel the world, living a location-independent lifestyle. The family is now working on a couple of projects to make this dream happen! In the meantime, they keep on exploring and Tine keeps on writing and inspiring other families to explore just like them.