DIY | Finger Paint

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Finger painting is a wonderful activity for sensory integration. Here’s a quick and simple DIY recipe for finger paint that’ll lead to fun and creative sensory and messy play. This recipe can also be diluted with water for paintbrush painting.


  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Food coloring
  • Dish soap
  • Sauce pan
  • Spatula
  • Small containers (maybe)


  • Add cornstarch and water to the saucepan.
  • Stir continuously over low heat until mixture thickens. The mixture should thicken evenly and slooooooooooowly–and that means constant stirring and medium heat. Turn down the heat a bit if you’re at all unsure about whether its medium. If your finger paint doesn’t turn out it was probably due to too much heat or not enough stirring.
  • Once it’s nicely thickened, remove the mixture from the heat and add 6-8 drops of dish soap. It seems that this simple addition not only makes cleanup a bit easier, it also makes the unused paint last longer.
  • Now you’ll have about 2 cups of warm, off-white finger paint. It’s time to get colorful. You can either do the whole batch in one color or split your quivering mound of paint into smaller containers and color them individually. Just add a bit of food coloring and mix away.

Dilute And Brush

A bit of water and stirring transforms this thick finger paint into a thinner brushable paint. Experiment to find a consistency you like–we went with a mixture of about 1 part finger paint to 3 parts water. Then all you do is stir until all the chunks dissolve.


  • This finger paint will stain fingers. We see this as a positive, not a negative and think most three and four year olds will too.
  • For subtler colors, substitute a wee bit of tempra paint for the food coloring. This variation also stains fingers less.
  • Store in air-tight containers and use within a few days.


Remember that kids should be involved with the creation side of projects like this as much as possible because all the mixing, measuring, and following directions are great learning opportunities. Check out this post for more: Five Reasons To DIY With Kids.

Let us know how it goes in the comments if you give this recipe a try–we’d love to see your pictures as well.


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Content Creator and Curator at

Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

After nearly 30 years working in early learning programs, Tasha now devotes her time to making Explorations Early Learning and Playvolution HQ work, quilting, and taking care of her pet duck, Tape.

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