CraftsNourishing Creativity

Father’s Day Sensory Paintings

Sensory Painting

Father’s Day this year was an exciting time for our family. It was Joshua’ and Paisley’s first official Father’s Day, as well as my dad’s first Father’s Day as a grandfather. To celebrate, we enjoyed a lovely cookout and fellowship time with one another, and of course, there were presents. Having a new baby automatically means all sorts of handmade (or hand printed) crafts for all people for all holidays. Because anything baby-made is automatically adorable and new parents don’t exactly have a ton of money for purchasing elaborate presents (cant I get an “amen”?).

So as a surprise present for Joshua and my father, Paisley’s Pop, we spent an evening working on “DAD” and “POP” sensory paintings to present as gifts on the guys’ special day. This craft was incredibly simple, fun, and most importantly, mess-free for my four month old baby – and the results are fantastic. I was thrilled to not only have a lovely, nearly-free, handmade present to give, but also to include my infant so throughly and allow her to explore arts and crafts at her own pace. It’s never too early to instill a love for the arts!

To make your own sensory craft for Father’s Day, or really any day, you will need the following supplies:

1 8″ x 10″ canvas
1 Gallon-sized Ziploc bag (I prefer to use a name brand bag, just because I don’t always have great luck with the zipper quality on cheaper bags but you can certainly use any gallon-size bag that you trust)
Washi tape (or any other easily removed adhesive strip)

Step 1: Prep.
You’re going to want to fully prep your work area and project before introducing the baby to the canvas. Otherwise you’ll end up with a disaster on your hands. To begin, use washi tape to spell the words or layout the design that you want the finished canvas to display. For Paisley’s canvases, I wanted one to say “DAD” and the other to say “POP”. I prepared the “DAD” one first.

Step 2: Add paint.
Open up your paints and go a little crazy with adding blobs, squiggles, and spots to the taped canvas. Don’t worry about perfection here; you just want enough paint for your baby or toddler to mush around with.


Step 3: Stick in the bag.
Once your paint is on the canvas, go ahead and stick it right into your gallon-sized Ziploc. Don’t worry about smudging the paint on the way in (you ain’t seen nothing yet). Depending on how messy you want or anticipate this craft to get, you can wipe any residual paint from the outside of the bag. I got a little around the zipper so I removed it with a paper towel before handing it over to Paisley.
Paisley's first art project.
Paisley’s first art project.

Step 4: Surrender!
The painting, that is. Hand over the canvas bag and let your little one go nuts. Painting can take place on the floor, table, high chair, wherever, just as long as you and your baby or toddler are having fun. I opted to introduce the canvas during tummy time and I didn’t even take one second to cover the carpet with any form of protection. Luckily we had zero paint spills. Don’t play with fate though. Don’t be like me. Protect your surfaces!

Paisley shows us how it's done.
Paisley shows us how it’s done.

Obviously this portion counts as the sensory part of the project. Little One gets to mush his/her tiny fists around in globs of paint. Mom gets to snap a few photos. (Or if you’re like me, you use the time that baby is occupied on Canvas A to prep Canvas B.)
Paisley was incredibly grouchy and uncooperative the evening that we decided to work on this and she still managed to enjoy herself moderately. I did have to rotate the canvas periodically so that she would evenly smoosh the different paint blobs, as this project didn’t hold her attention perfectly. Four months is probably a little on the young side for this activity, so keep your own child’s attention span and motor skills in mind when preparing this craft.

Finished (in bag).
Finished (in bag).

Step 5: *Carefully* Remove the Canvas from Child, then from Bag
When your child is through with the smooshing of the paint, take the bag from the work area and relocate it to a safe area of the house for drying. For me, this was the kitchen counter. I found that removing the canvases from the bags wasn’t extremely hard, as the paint is already pretty indistinguishably smudged around by the end of the project. However, I wanted to preserve as much of Paisley’s work as possible so I carefully “fluffed” the paint-y top of the Ziploc bag away from the canvas and cut one of the corners so I could slide it right out.

Both canvases, post-bag, pre-dry.
Both canvases, post-bag, pre-dry.

Step 6: Dry
Let your canvas(es) dry in a safe place for approximately 18-24 hours, depending on how thick the paint is. I left mine for a little over 24 hours on top of Paisley’s armoire – out of reach for baby and out of sight for Josh, this was a surprise after all.

Paisley was tuckered out after slaving over the paintings!
Paisley was tuckered out after slaving over the paintings!

Step 7: Remove Tape
Once the paint has dried completely, remove the tape from the canvas to reveal the words or designs underneath. It may take a second to locate the tape edges underneath the paint strata, but once you start pulling, it should come off pretty easily and cleanly.

The finished product!
The finished product!
I added a small personal note to each canvas with a fine point Sharpie.
I added a small personal note to each canvas with a fine point Sharpie.

The finished craft for Pop

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Gabrielle Rystedt
Gabrielle Rystedt
Gabrielle Rystedt is a writer by day and a writer by night (because writers never sleep), who spends time balancing client orders, a couple of books and her blog at Raising Rystedts. She’s a business school grad who’s dabbled in management, both at the project and company level. She loves coffee and crafting, and enjoys settling down with a good book. Though as mom to three kiddos in three years, she realistically spends most of her time reheating her coffee and typing away like a crazy person on a laptop keyboard while surrounded by (clean) cloth diapers and cheddar bunnies.

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