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La Jolla Mom - 4 Homemade Finger Paint Recipes for Kids

4 Top Homemade Finger Paint Recipes Analyzed

Homemade fingerpaint recipes

Using what we already had in our pantry, La Jolla Girl and I tested four different homemade finger paint recipes. Each finger paint recipe has a different consistency. All were easy to make, but some took less effort than others.

We’ll give you the recipes, show you what they look like on finger paint paper, and mention how they may or may not stain clothing. Though she enjoyed playing with each finger paint, of course, we do have a favorite. And, for some reason, La Jolla Girl preferred to use these with a brush in lieu of her fingers.

Kool Aid Finger Paint Recipe

She is maintaining a safe distance since the water is hot.

2 cups flour
2 packs unsweetened Kool Aid
1/2 cup salt
3 cups boiling water
3 tbsp oil

Directions: Mix wet into dry.

Notes: The finger paint was a little bit grainy and smells good. It dries nicely, if not a little thick.

Homemade Finger Paint Kids Can Make (Cold Water)

2 cups white flour
2 cups cold water
food coloring

Directions: Put water into a large bowl. Slowly add the flour while your child is stirring. After it’s combined, divide into smaller bowls and add food coloring.

Notes: We made a big batch of green, versus a mixture of colors, since we were making so many other recipes. La Jolla Girl (3.5 yrs old) could not whisk this recipe fast enough to avoid lumps so I stepped in and gave it a whirl. It was still a little lumpy. Older kids may become frustrated by the way this recipe paints. When finger painting, the paint gets pushed to the sides. It’s hard to cover any real area with this paint. La Jolla Girl still thought it was fantastic, though it’s probably the least effective. You’ll always be able to make this on a spur of the moment if you have flour in your pantry. I’m sure it will save me in a pinch when she needs to be entertained immediately. The red in the photo below is the Kool Aid finger paint above.


Easy Corn Syrup Homemade Finger Paint Recipe

This is beyond easy, if you have corn syrup in your pantry.

1.  Squirt some corn syrup in a bowl.
2.  Add a few drops of food coloring.

Done and done.

Notes: This is sticky, but it paints very nicely. I have a photo below of all of the recipes on a sheet of finger paint paper. After they all dried, a sheet of paper was accidentally put on top (likely weighted) of it. The corn syrup recipe totally stuck to the back of the paper, as it always stays a bit tacky. However, we really liked this recipe because, again, it’s EASY and paints nicely. I also read that you can use condensed milk and food coloring, or pudding and food coloring in a similar manner. I like pecan pie, so we usually have corn syrup around, but I know that some people have an opinion regarding corn syrup.

Cornstarch Finger Paint:  Our Favorite

1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
liquid food coloring

Directions: Mix cornstarch and water in a saucepan and boil until the mixture thickens. Allow to cool and then add food coloring.

Notes: It will start to look like this in the pan:

Then you can separate into different bowls and dye each a different color. We like this recipe because it has a similar consistency to store-bought finger paint. It dries without being sticky and is just fun to play with, though it can be a little gloppy (for lack of a better adjective). The colors are vibrant too.

Comparison And Staining

We put each recipe on the same sheet of finger paint paper.  I made one more batch of green cornstarch finger paint and attempted to dye some cornstarch finger paint with natural food coloring using POM Wonderful juice and a reduction made from fresh cranberries. It’s easier to buy Natural Decorating Colors than to create your own dye from fruit, despite the price.
Here they are on a new white towel.

And, after sitting on the towel accidentally for a number of days, I applied a few spritzes of Spray N Wash.

The towel came out of the washer almost completely clean, with the exception of a small, barely noticeable POM stain.  It’s pomegranate, so I’m not totally surprised.

There you have it. In conclusion, your kids will likely enjoy any of these finger paints. It just depends on how much time you have to help them make a recipe and what ingredients you have in your pantry.

Update: I’ve created a FREE download for my Facebook fans to reference. It has our favorite recipes for playdough, finger paints, watercolor paints and slime. Click here on Recipes for Kids Crafts to go get it.

  • Connie Holmes - May 7, 2013

    I am going to use this recipe to share with parents at my Primary School where I teach Kindergarten. We are coming up with activities for parents to do at home with their kids that are easy. We are cutting toilet paper rolls into designs (at the bottem) so students can stamp them on paper using paint. We needed a recipe for paint. This one looks like a winner!!

  • Lorena Beckham - May 7, 2013

    I was looking to do a craft with my first grandbaby born in march. Have you seen the butterflies made with baby feet? I want to make a planter for my daughter with butterflies from little Andrew’s feet. Thinking the cornstarch one then either shillac/clear coat over it so it will last. Any thoughts? Thanks so much. ( i miss san diego btw!)

  • Desiree - April 1, 2013

    can u use the cornstarch one to paint on canvas and then give as a gift or do u think it would mold.

  • Zayrah - September 11, 2012

    Thank you so much for the recipe! I tried the one with corn starch and my kids loved it, I experimented a bit with natural coloring and added turmeric and it was a wonderful yellow :)

    • La Jolla Mom - September 11, 2012

      Turmeric is a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • jen - June 4, 2012

    Hi! I’m wondering if you can make the corn starch recipe about a week in advance? Will it keep? Thank you!

    • La Jolla Mom - June 5, 2012

      Hi! I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. I would assume so, however, I’ve never done it. We usually make and use within a day or so. I’ll save it next time and see how long it lasts!

  • meg - May 31, 2012

    These are terrific — thanks for sharing!

  • CP - January 20, 2012

    It’s not surprising that food coloring came out easily. Artificial food colorings are actually acid dyes, and will only bond to animal fibers and nylon, not to plant fibers like cotton. If you put food coloring on wool, with vinegar and heat, the color will bind to the wool and be permanent.

    Food coloring can leave long-lasting stains on porous surfaces like wood or counters, so be careful with that.

    If you get food coloring on your hands or hair, try scrubbing your hands with a little baking soda and water!

  • La Jolla Mom - December 3, 2010

    No problem. It’s all I can do to keep the kid busy these days so we make up projects as we go!

  • LocalFunforKids Mom - December 3, 2010

    I love this! I’ve never done this with my kids before. But, now that you’ve done all the research for us, I will definitely try it!
    Thanks for sharing!

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I'm Katie Dillon, a freelance luxury travel writer who lives in seaside La Jolla, CA. This is where I document my recent trips around the world, the latest San Diego happenings and other fun lifestyle topics. Thanks for stopping by!

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