Play idea: Painting – Waituhi

Painting is a way for children to show their feelings and be creative using different colours and textures of paint.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • All Early Learning Services 
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Service Managers
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Children learn through play. Below is some information about a play idea for your children.

Children will most often paint what they know and feel rather than what they see, so it is really important that adults let them paint in their own way.

Painting can help children to

  • develop hand, eye, arm and body coordination
  • develop finger and hand muscles
  • use shape, form and colour to express themselves in ways they do not have words for yet
  • experiment with colour and texture
  • represent ideas
  • show moods and feelings
  • begin to develop writing skills.

Adults can support children by

  • keeping the painting area tidy and clean
  • naming and dating their work
  • valuing their artwork and treating it with respect
  • renewing paints and paper regularly
  • talking to them about their work
  • making sure there’s a safe place to dry and display their work
  • allowing them to explore by using the same colour(s) over and over again, mixing different colours together to see what happens and exploring texture by painting on different surfaces including their hands.

Providing for painting

Easels and tables being used for painting tend to be best in a quiet space away from the other resources. Have aprons or overalls available so children’s clothes are covered. Painting can also happen in other places such as outside on paths, fences or large cardboard boxes, and in association with carpentry or collage constructions.

Painting is often thought of as an individual process but group painting is a lot of fun – try attaching a large strip of old wallpaper to a fence or place it on the ground and see what happens!

Ideas for natural resources

  • paper, cardboard and fabric of all sizes, textures and colours to paint on
  • other surfaces or objects to paint on such as fences, stones, wood offcuts
  • a range of different paints such as powder, poster, acrylic, watercolour, dye, tablet and oil paints, or natural products such as clay slurry (watered down clay)
  • a range of bright clean colours, and shades of colours to choose from
  • a range of painting implements such as brushes, sponges, rollers, leaves.

Te Whāriki

Painting can be used to support all strands of Te Whāriki. In particular, painting supports the Communication strand, where children discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive. It also supports the Exploration strand, where children gain confidence in and control of their own bodies. This includes active exploration with all the senses and the use of tools, materials and equipment to extend skills.

This play idea has been developed for playgroups. Feel free to use it at other types of ECE service, but make sure you're still following the regulations and licensing criteria that apply to your service type. Parents may also find this information useful.

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