Create abstract art

For ages 18 months – 8 years

Allow your child to be an artist for the day! They can create abstract art (where the subjects are not ‘realistic) with some basic materials. As they do, they can explore and discover colour, develop their coordination, and strengthen their hand and finger muscles.

Tip: Keep a sponge ready for any spills. Food dye can stain hands, clothing and furniture and takes a little while to wash off. The darker the colour the more likely it is to stain. If you don’t have an old or easy-to-clean table, cover the work surface with a lot of newspaper before you start.

What do I need?

  • Food dye (one or more colours)
  • Water
  • Old jars (with screw-top lids if you want to keep the paints you make)
  • Small paint brushes
  • Paper (thicker paper works best for this activity)
  • A table – an old, or easy-to-clean table is perfect
  • Art smock or old clothing (an adult’s shirt can work well)
  • Newspaper

 How do I do it?

  1. First of all, dress your child in an art smock or in old clothes.
  2. Mix one drop of selected food dye with half a cup of water in each jar – a little dye will go a long way. Add more water if the colour is too dark or more food dye if too light.
  3. Give your child some time to explore the paint.
  4. Chat with your child as they create – talk about the colours and what happens when the colours mix together. Talk about what they are creating: “Tell me about this picture?”, “What is happening here?”.
  5. When finished you can safely tip the dye out or put a lid on to save for later.

No-one knows your child better than you.  So, choose and/or adapt ideas here to best suit you and your child. Remember it’s the talking and time spent together that matters most.

More activities to try

6 months – 8 years

Water xylophone

6 months – 6 years

Making music in the kitchen

0 – 8 years

Keep it Moving