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Jul 21

Outdoor Activities: Rain Painting

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

When life gives you rain, it’s best just to get out and dance in it. Preferably in your wellies and with Peppa Pig umbrella firmly up. If you are 3 and living in the Baby Routes household that is. When that recent sweltering heatwave finally broke and we were finally treated to a downpour or two, I was pretty pleased. The veggie garden was desperate for a soaking, the drop in temperature was bliss and it meant we could try out some wet weather crafts.

You may remember that a while back we did some painting with nature, using seed heads, sticks, stones and other natural materials to paint pictures with. Well I’ve been wondering about using other natural elements for artwork and rain seemed like an obvious one. I did a practice run whilst the girls were at nursery and then let them loose.

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

Before starting I got out a roasting tin and grill pan (we used a cake baking rack for the second tin) for each of the girls. This is to stop the paper soaking up excess rain water from underneath it and to aid drying afterwards without tipping the paper – we wanted the raindrop to do all the painting.  We used clothes pegs to pin a piece of A4 paper onto the top of the rack to stop the wind flipping the paper off. Then it was time to firmly pin on wipeable aprons. We were getting out the food colouring!

Using drinking straws as a type of pipette, Roo and Beth dripped small drops of food colouring over their paper. I had to discourage Roo from using too much or getting the paper too wet. The key to great pictures is letting the rain do the wet & spread bit. Beth was amazingly much more reserved. Both children stayed remarkably clean – I did think letting them loose with food colouring was going to be a massive mistake!

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

Next we took the trays with their papers outside into the rain. After the day’s downpours the rain had eased off. After watching for a few minutes the girls soon left their painting to the rain and set off on other adventures around the garden.

Come supper time and the rain had stopped completely. Roo came up with the idea of putting her tray under the tree where the occasional drip was still falling. This made a few big splodges on the paper but not much else. We headed in to eat.

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

Somehow we didn’t notice the rain come back during supper. It was only after the girls got down that they glanced out the window and saw that once again water was cascading from the sky. A quick dash outdoors and their rain painting papers were retrieved. The rain had had fun painting but had got a little over-enthusiastic and completely blurred all the colours into one. Roo loved this all-over effect and we left the rain painting papers to dry on its rack. It wasn’t quite the result I’d envisaged though.

Next day the rain returned and Roo asked to do more rain painting. We had several more goes and this time we left the paper out for different amounts of time, the girls sploshing about outside in the wet weather gear whilst waiting. Sometimes when the rain and wind got very heavy they came in and peered at their paintings, nose pressed firmly against the glass.

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

It was fun watching how lighter rain makes tiny little splashes on the paper whilst the heavier rain makes the colours leap into each other. Downpours, as we had already discovered, simply flood one colour into another. Roo got a lot less heavy handed with her original splodging on of food colouring. I think watching the previous rain paintings develop helped her to see that less made for a more interesting result.

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

The other thing we learnt was to bring the painting papers in early if you want to keep a pattern the rain has made. Because the paper takes a long time to dry out, the colours continue to run and merge when they are drying so the pattern will spread further. Perhaps we could have tried laying the paper on newspaper to dry? I was worried though that by moving it off the racks it might tear or tip the colours into one another though.

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

Of course, if you wanted to you could use water-colour or other absorbant style paper for this rain painting project. You could also try other soluble paints (water-colours I guess would be the obvious if expensive choice) that may perhaps be less messy than food colouring. We simply used what we had in the house. If you are using food colouring for rain painting then another tip is to go for those little squeezable tubes or decant some of each colour onto a plate  – potentially less disastrous than using straws in open bottles as we did. Finally, don’t forget to wash any spillages out fast – food colouring stains.

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

The final results of our rain painting were pretty varied and very colourful. It was a lot of fun for the girls to watch how different types of rain transformed their original painting in different ways. The sun has returned now but Roo asks hopefully most days if it might rain. She’s got quite fond of this new painting technique and we are building up quite a collection of rain panting artwork! Next job – turning it into a rain cloud and drops mobile…. I’ll post a photo when we are done!

rain painting with food colouring, rainy day activities for preschoolers, Baby Routes

Have you tried rain painting? What are your favourite wet weather crafts or games? 

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4 comments

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  1. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    What a clever idea, I would never have thought of that.

  2. Crysta

    What a fun idea! Engaging kids when the weather is a bummer can be so hard! This is an excellent tool.

    1. Kate Limburn

      I did think it was going to be a messy catastophe but it worked out pretty well! Now they can’t wait for it to rain.

  3. Kate Davis

    This is a great idea, I love it and I’m sure my kids would as well. I’m pinning this so I remember for the future.

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