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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Making Art Together

Toddler Art Activity: Flour Paint Experiment

There are always a variety of activities available for toddlers in the Art Studio. We have a light table, activity board, magnet board, manipulative shelf, and dedicated toddler drawing table, so young explorers can stay busy in the studio without ever sitting to produce an "artwork" to take home. Through our Every Day Art Program, available whenever the Museum is open, materials are available to all Museum guests , including toddlers, to explore however they wish.

Materials Play, however, is a space and time for toddlers and their parent or caregiver to have fun with materials and explorations selected and arranged especially for their interest and body size. Sometimes messy, always open-ended and experimental in nature, the 4 weekMaterials Play series happen about once a season. Usually anywhere from 2-10 children and their caregivers drop-in to during that sweet spot of time between Museum opening at 10:00 am and story time in the Reading Library at 10:30.

 Flour Paint Experiment / The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

I kicked off the latest Materials Play series with an exploration that was as much science experiment as it was art-making. In the past, I’ve offered flour paint made by pre-mixing a recipe of flour, salt, water, and coloring (either food coloring or liquid watercolors) in putting small batches in condiment squeeze bottles. It was fun to squeeze the bottles, but some small hands had a hard time queezing the bottles. And when I reflected on the experiences, they didn’t feel truly toddler-centered. Half the fun and learning (measuring, pouring and stirring) had already been done before my young explorers even arrived.

 Flour Paint Experiment

So this time, in the center of the table I put a bowl of wheat flour with measuring spoons and a container of table salt. At 4 individual work stations, I placed a muffin-pan style paint palette on slightly larger tray to catch some of the spill-over. Brushes, jars of water, and liquid watercolors I kept nearby.

When my young friends arrived I invited each to put some flour, a big pinch of salt, and a little water into each of their muffin tins. They poured the water from small jars that I refilled as needed. Purposefully leaving the quantities vague and imprecise in my invitation I thought would frame the exploration as an experiment rather than a recipe.

Next, I or the child’s adult added a few drops of liquid watercolor of their choosing to each pan in which they put flour, salt and water. Next time I think I’ll have colored water and pipettes available in baby food jars at a separate table to let them add the color by themselves. 

 Flour Paint Experiment / The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Then, when each child was ready, I handed them 3 brushes and observed as they stirred and mixed. For a few it was all about the texture: mixing, stirring and adding more water or flour to change the consistency. A few others intently tweaked their colors, missing from pan to pan to see how the colors changed. At least 5 of the 10 kids that participated tried brushing their paint on a piece of chipboard or a scrap of white mat board.

 Flour Paint Experiment / The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

That I didn’t have all 10 kids at once made it possible to do this at our one super-low table. At most there were 5 kids working at a time. If I were to do this experiment with more kids starting simultaneously, the setup would have to be adjusted. I might like to have the scooping and pouring happening at a separate table from the mixing and painting.

If you're concerned about your young artist tasting the paint, you could make your own food dyes, or order a set like India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, from Amazon. If wheat allergies are a concern, try rice flour.

Have you and your kids tried any paint mixing experiments? What ingredients did they enjoy testing?



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 




C Turner
Friday, October 10, 2019 - 11:32 pm
Children can have serious allergic reactions to flour, which can be life threatening in some cases.
Tuesday, October 10, 2019 - 10:05 am
Hi C, Thank you for your comment and raising the concern around allergic reactions. We agree it is important to understand what ingredients are inside art materials before using and undergo art experiments with adult supervision. Best, Sara

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