Tools Of The Trade: Painting Without Trashing The Table

Need to keep your child's paper from slipping while they paint or draw?

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An inexpensive roll of blue painter's tape works like a charm and doubles as a way to hang the artwork when it's finished.

There's another handy tip featured in the picture above. Q-tips make excellent disposable paint brushes. In this case, we were working with primary colors and used on cotton swab for each color, but kids like to mix (kind of the point when working with primary colors and learning to mix the colors, anyway). Instead of giving the children access to the entire pot of paint, I pour it onto plates in small amounts. This controls the quantity used and keeps the original containers a little neater for future painting sessions.

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Make friends with sponges. You can run them through the dishwasher to keep them clean or even microwave them for a few seconds to really kill off the germs if that's a concern (be careful when you pull them out, they'll be HOT). A moistened sponge kept next to messy activities allows a child to be more independent in cleaning up. It also gives you a quick way to mop up spills if needed. I like to cut my sponges in half. They're still plenty big enough for the job.

I cannot tell you how much I love this next item, but trust me and get yourself a giant roll of paper. It's a must-have in my opinion. We grew up with a roll of unprinted newsprint that I don't think we ever used up, but were always using. It can be used for wrapping paper, art projects, just let your imagination go. Right now, I have a smaller version on a spool I got from IKEA that's super handy. The spool was $6.99 and the roll was $4.99. Worth every cent. As you can see, we keep it next to a supply of pencils, pens, specialty scissors, and colored pencils. It gets regular use.

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Happy creating! Go get your craft on, kids.