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Types of Paint for Children

Children love to paint craft items, paper and coloring-book pages. It is important to find paints that are nontoxic for children to use. Fast-drying and easy clean-up paints are products that parents and teachers appreciate when working with children. Children like bright colors and creamy texture when working with paint products. Some paints have distinct odors that may be irritating to children with asthma and allergies, but there are several types of paint that are safe and child friendly.


Nontoxic acrylic paint is available in tubes and squirt bottles. These paints are available in many colors that are compatible with the types of projects children enjoy doing. The ease of application and quick-drying feature make acrylic paint one of the most desirable art products for children to use. It has an easy clean-up quality. It works well for painting on three-dimensional products such as plaster of Paris figurines, wooden boxes and clay pots. Keep in mind, however, that some acrylic paints can stain clothing.

Finger Paint

This thick, colorful paint is favored by young children. Little ones enjoy squishing the paint in their hands and making designs with it on paper sheets. Finger paint can be purchased or made with a variety of child-safe ingredients. Tempera paint can be used as a finger-paint medium.

Poster Paint

Poster paint is packaged in jars or markers. This is another quick-drying paint that is nontoxic. Some poster paints tend to have an odor, so you may want to check them before purchase. Poster paints come in fluorescent and metallic colors for adding special decoration to poster projects. Children can use poster paint for signs, birthday or welcome home placards.


Tempera paint is often used in schools. There is a student-grade tempura paint manufactured for school projects. Tempera comes in bottles and jugs. It mixes well and has a thick creamy consistency that allows children to do paintings and other art projects easily. It can be used for finger painting, and can be used on construction paper, cardboard and papier-mache items. It is nontoxic but does have an odor. Some tempera paints can stain clothing, so parents will want children to wear protective cover-ups or old clothing when using it.

Paint Kits

There are many paint-by-number kits on the market for children. The kits have either acrylic or watercolor paints in them. The acrylic paint comes in tiny pots with snap-on caps. The watercolors come in tiny tubes; children should be monitored to make sure they don't squeeze out too much watercolor paint. A little goes a long way, as it mixes with water to be spread onto canvas paper. Watercolors are for the child who has had painting experience and has mastered using acrylic paints. There are also colored pencils that are used for a form of watercolor art.

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