Friday, December 9, 2011

Painting for Kids on the Run

each child had his own try but later would share to get more colors

WHAT: Chennille Kraft Paint Rollers with Paint Trays
DOES: a more active way to paint, sometimes less threatening to those who avoid mess on their hands, can be a very social way to make art.
INVEST: around $11
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Express Yourself (new), Social Scene Helper

I love painting.  I am no good at it but I love it very much.   There is something very social about painting and that is appealing to me.  I also love painting because you don't have to be sitting down to do it. And since my two boys don't even sit still to watch television, you can see how sitting down to paint might not be so ideal.

But here is what is ideal: paint rollers!  Have you ever tried it?  I have visited lots of parents' homes and lots of families have paints and brushes but rarely see homes with paint rollers.  Why? Is it THAT messy?


I will not hide that.  Rather, I will say that Number 2, who does not like messy and is the kind of kid that asks ME if he should wash his hands (not vice versa) would rather sit and do nothing than get his hands sticky or wet.

Everybody has quirks.  My husband doesn't want to drink the last dribble of anything in his cup and I just found out that one of my son's teachers is the same way. I don't know what that is but at least for  Number 2, I know that his big avoidance of getting his hands dirty is something called Sensory Processing Disorder.  I am not going to explain it in detail here except to say that sensory processing issues are something you see in lots of people.
Warning: access to lots of paint and freedom to move around can lead to such creative inspirations that leave you just speechless!
People who have it generally have under or over-responsivity to input.  So in plain English that means that most folks hear a fire engine and thinks it is loud but some sense it so loudly that they are almost knocked off their feet.  Some women's sense of smell changes when they are pregnant.  I could not walk into a butcher shop when I was pregnant.  I would turn into a devil if someone tried to make me go near it.  But some folks with SPD have a heightened (over-responsive) sense of smell that lasts their whole life.  I'm not doing justice to this issue, so please see the foot of post for some great links.

I am one of those parents that still can't accept how my children could be such picky eaters when I can eat just about anything including live octopus!  (Yes, I did! It was very small and covered in rich sesame oil.  Don't think I stuck my face in the ocean and fished one out with my mouth.)  But alas, here we are and while it is not imperative that my child paints, I just don't want him to miss out.

These rollers did the trick.  First, you are not seated and therefore you are not trapped.  If you feel scared about something, you always want to know where is the nearest exit.   With rollers, you basically have the whole floor.  We are lucky to have a part of our home where it is not carpeted at all.  Here is where Numbers 1 and 2 go nuts with painting.  Rollers kind of bring that out of a child.

I basically pull out the paint trays, let them (with guidance) fill each tray compartment with washable tempura paint and give them some big paper.  They love it.  And guess what?  Number 2 gets messy and sometimes he gets so busy that he doesn't even get up to wash his hands or feet.  If he does, I say go ahead but come right back so we can finish!

I put one paint roller in each tray compartment and sometimes a paintbrush too.  I may have as many as 4 trays out (16 compartments) if they have friends over.  Since they have been instructed not to mix colors, they have to wait their turn.  (By the way, I think it is okay to mix colors as long as you get your own palette to mix the colors.  And if someone comes over our house and mixes the colors, then they have to learn to be okay with that.)    I love how social this activity is because it is the kind of thing you can work on together without getting into each other's way.  Everyone has a brush in their hand so you basically have your own job.  There is less social anxiety and your body has a chance to move around.
I wasn't kidding about the subways.  Somebody in this house likes them a lot.
I really wish we had more space because I would be painting on the wall much more often.  We got rid of our easel because of space issues but painting while standing strengthens children's arms and trunk muscles.  I didn't realize this but stronger trunks helps you sit up straight- as in sit up straight in school. Could it be?  (note to self: 30 sit-ups everyday for each child)  I once painted on the space on the wall where my couch used to be before we got our new couch.  That was a fun day (pictured).   The thought of really repainting my own walls is horrible but painting with rollers on some cardboard or brown paper bags against the wall always sounds like fun.  This really got me thinking about what could be the next challenge.  I am actually eyeing the Discovery Kids Cardboard Color Me Play House now.  There looks like some opportunities for roller painting as well as painting finer details with a paintbrush.  Maybe they will paint a secret door too.  The cool part about the finer details is that you can have different skills sets working together on one project- sounds like a family project to me.  Oh no, here I go again.... don't press that ADD TO CART button.

Read more about Sensory Processing Disorder:

Disclosure statement: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion for the publication of this post by the manufacturer or retailer of any of the products mentioned here . 


  1. I love the idea of rollers, especially as an outdoor project, space permitting. One reason my daughter doesn't like doing art is because it usually involves sitting down, which she can't do for very long. Using rollers could be like dancing....

    By the way, speaking of toys for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, here's a blog post about buying holiday gifts for kids with special needs:

  2. I love your spirit, Jenn; you're up for anything in the name of your kids & fun! Also, thanks much for sharing my Child Mind Institute piece; so much to wrap one's head around.