Not so messy play

The paint’s mainly on the paper… so far.

My little girl, like most toddlers, likes painting, but there are days when I can’t quite face removing it from the inside of her ears and rooms we haven’t even been in. So we’ve built up a collection of not-so-messy alternatives.

There’s tons of things to try: play dough (Rachel explains how to make your own here), glitter pens, sticking little bits of coloured paper, feathers etc. And here’s a few maybe you haven’t tried yet…

  1. Aqua doodle
Aqua doodle pad – there’s no mess!

We’ve got the travel version of this (a gift from a friend). You open up to a pad and there’s a ‘pen’ tucked in. All you have to do is fill up the pen with water, then your toddler can draw. Mine likes to ‘colour in’ every bit, so it’s good for five minutes’ peace and the pen comes in useful for other things…

You can also get mats that look fun.

2. Magic painting

There are various versions of this. The paint is usually embedded in the paper – your toddler ‘paints’ over it with a brush and water to reveal the not-always-startling colours. The worst that can happen is some split water and, if you use your aqua doodle pen, you can eliminate that risk too.

Melissa and Doug have a fancier version with a little palate of colours on the top of each page. But we haven’t yet had a go yet.

3. Washi tape

A couple of reels of washi tape

My little one likes to play with sellotape, so I started to look around for more decorative tape that she might like just as much. Turns out it’s a ‘thing’ in Japan and if you hunt around there are all sorts of designs you can get hold of. We’ve got a nice reel of animals that you can cut into stickers, scenes from London  and another with cars that does a good job of instant traffic jams if that’s what you like drawing (and she does).

These are also great for putting in your bag as they don’t take up too much room and they can provide a welcome distraction on a journey or when you’re trying to drink a cuppa.

4. Stickers

Letter stickers from Poundland and Tiger

Stickers are a great, non-messy alternative to paint. These ones have been a big hit at a time when she’s getting more and more interested in letters and numbers. We picked up some in Tiger (the small ones) and some more in Poundland (the big ones).

5. Paper dolls


I picked this up in Tiger, but you can easily make your own. Need some inspiration? Read this first!





Author: Aline Reed

I am a freelance copywriter.

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