Help your child make eco-friendly art supplies

Save money and the environment by helping your child make their own eco-friendly, non-toxic fingerpaint and play dough at home.

With the rising cost of art supplies, finding extra money to buy your child finger paints and play dough can be challenging.

The good news is that making your own eco-friendly, non-toxic art supplies at home is easier than you think.

Money saved aside, you’ll also know precisely what is going into them, and most of these recipes can be whipped up in less time than it would take to go to the store.

Homemade play dough

This play dough is not only edible (though it is not tasty, so sampling is strongly discouraged), but it can also be made in about 10 minutes and lasts much longer than store-bought play dough. It is simple to store in plastic containers, resealable bags, or recycled plastic containers from store-bought dough (after it has dried out).

If the homemade dough becomes dry or is left out for too long, work a little water into it, and it will be as good as new.

What you need

  • 1 pan
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • waxed paper
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • food colouring

How to make it

  1. In a saucepan, combine the flour, cream of tartar and salt.
  2. Add the water and vegetable oil. 
  3. Turn the heat to medium/low and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  4. Add a few drops of food colouring. 
  5. Keep stirring until the dough clumps around the spoon and forms a big lump.
  6. Remove from pan and allow to cool on waxed paper. 
  7. After it has cooled, knead the dough to eliminate lumps.


Through sensory play, finger painting is an excellent way for children to explore, learn, and develop. It encourages children’s creativity when they can feel the cool, squishy texture of the paint and experiment with colour and patterns. It’s also a good way for kids to express themselves.

What you need

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 cups cold water
  • Food colouring

How to make it

  1. Pour cold water into a large bowl.
  2. Slowly stir the flour into the bowl.
  3. After mixing it well, divide it into smaller bowls and add food colouring as desired.

Watercolour paint

This watercolour paint is inexpensive and available in virtually any colour or scent your child prefers. Purchase unsweetened drink mixes because sugary varieties will result in very sticky fingers and kitchen surfaces.

What you need

  • Hot water
  • Unsweetened powdered drink mix (of any flavour or colour)

How to make it

  1. Place a tablespoon of drink mix in a bowl and add a small amount of hot water until the powder is dissolved and the paint is the consistency you want. 
  2. Add more powder for thicker paint and more water for thinner paint. 
  3. Mix and match the flavours of the drink mix to create new scents and colours. Your child’s art will even keep the fruity smell after it dries!

Play-with-your-food fingerpaint

This edible fingerpaint variation is especially enjoyable for children under the age of one who are still exploring food, textures, and feeding themselves. There is no need for paper; allow them to “paint” their high chair tray. Give your toddlers this paint and brushes, and send them to the bathtub for a fun twist. They can have fun painting in the bath, but they will need an extra rinse when they are finished! 

What you need

  • Plain yoghurt or vanilla pudding
  • Food colouring
  • Powdered drink mix or cocoa powder 

How to make it

  1. Add the desired amount of yoghurt or pudding to the containers. 
  2. Mix in food colouring and powdered drink or cocoa powder. 

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