Crafting · Programs

Hands-On with Finger Paints, Balls, and Textured Baggies

At the end of every storytime session, Fremont Library hosts a Hands-On craft program for one- and two-year-olds. Check out the details on my Hands-On page. Patrons are required to register (to know how much supplies we need) but the program is pretty free flowing, where parents and kids can enjoy two crafty activities at their leisure. Very chill, man.


At least that’s how I dream it to be. Oftentimes, when all 20 kids and 20 parents show up plus 5 siblings, and they start needing things (like more paint–so needy!!) I resort to the following:


No, actually the program is pretty awesome and the kids have a fantastic time. Your role as librarian is directions-connoisseur and supplies replenisher. And sticky hands liberator. Every once in awhile you might be able to take a few pictures, but do it fast!! I highly suggest having a volunteer or coworker helping you out.

So what did we do this time? The one-year-olds had a messy activity and a (slightly) no-mess activity, while the two-year-olds had all mess.

1- and 2-year-olds & Finger Painting with Taped Words

Source = As Time Flies


  • 20 sheets of “artist” paper or thicker paper than printer paper
  • Carpenter’s tape (so that it removes easily from the paper)
  • Non-toxic finger paint

Prep Work:

1) Tape words onto the sheets of paper. I used “love,” “hugs,” and “joy.” I thought about letting the parents do this themselves but it took about 5 minutes to do each paper and having a wriggling baby on your lap that long will not make for a fun time. I’d also need to supply each parent with a roll of tape, and I did not have 20 rolls. On this note, reserve about 2 hours to do 40 sheets. I swear, it’s worth it.


2) Paint one yourself. This will give you an idea how much paint you need to dish out onto each sheet of paper. Let your beautiful creation dry (about 4 hours) and remove tape. This sample will provide many gasps of elation and wonder, motivating the caregivers to take home a sopping wet sheet of paper.

About this much paint should be sufficient
About this much paint should be sufficient
I made this stunning work of art--and it's not for sale!
I made this stunning work of art–and it’s not for sale!


  • Smooth the tape down before you add the paint
  • Add two colors that mix well to create another color (pro-tip: don’t use orange and green, as seen above)
  • Add the name and age on the paper before it’s entirely covered in paint
  • Tell the parents to make sure the youngin’ paints around the taped letters, not necessarily the border
  • Some of the younger 1-year-olds might be hesitant towards dipping their fingers in paint. If encouragement doesn’t work by showing the babe how it’s done, then suggest they move onto the other craft.

1-year-olds & sensory bags with aloe vera

Source = Falling Flannelboards


  • Sandwich size ziploc bags
  • Aloe vera (blue is preferable) – about 1/4 cup per bag
  • Brightly colored buttons, pony beads, smooth vase stones, anything small and smooth
  • Duct tape (patterned is preferable)

Prep Work

1) Create your own as a sample to understand just how much aloe vera each bag needs.

2) Prep the bags by taping three sides.

Finished product


  • Less is more! Show the parents the amount of aloe vera you used by showing them the amount taken out of the bottle. This is a good visual and reminder that less is more.
  • Remind parents to not take exorbitant amounts of beads, buttons, etc. because the other half of the class still need to make theirs.


One 1-year-old had the ol’ meltdown during the finger painting but came back to the sensory bag after he was ready. Still a little cranky, he became obsessed and thoroughly entertained with it once the bag was completed. His mom said they were going on a road trip to Pennsylvania in a week and she was inspired to make simple, easy crafts like this one to keep him entertained. She was thinking a zippered pencil case with objects inside should do the trick. Brilliant!

2-year-olds & box painting with balls

Source = Kids Activities Blog


  • Paper boxes
  • Legal sized paper
  • Tempura paint (or any paint, really)
  • Textured ball work best


  • Add the name and age on the paper before it’s entirely covered in paint

7 thoughts on “Hands-On with Finger Paints, Balls, and Textured Baggies

  1. Do you have any problems with the caregivers taking home the wet projects? I have always wanted to try painting with the toddlers, but keep coming back to this issue.

    1. Hi, Lisa! There was some sighs of malcontent but I told them to let it dry in their trunk. They were advised by email and in the newsletter that children were to “dress for mess” so I think caregivers were ready for the messiness. Many folded the project in half, not getting too bent out of shape if the halves touched. Several caregivers stayed after the program and let it (slightly) dry in the program room. I only had one person leave their project, which was pretty awesome.

      I really try and express the great value of these programs and the many skills their children develop just by coming and, essentially, playing for 15-25 minutes. I think for many of my caregivers, the importance of the program outweighs the inconvenience of taking home a wet art project.

  2. I LOVE the sensory bags! I might have to do those in a program this fall. I also really like the finger painting over taped words. It lets the kids have the process experience while the parents get a cute end result. At my library a lot of parents are more concerned with the project than the process, so this would be a great solution to that issue.

    1. I *always* start my programs out by saying “We’re not making self-portraits of ourselves today or weaving baskets, so it’s all about PROCESS.” Nevertheless, they all practically started weeping over how adorable the taped words were.

  3. Amazing! Really helpful to inspire kids creative work. Art can increase kids mental growth and creativity. So it is essential to provide best art supply to inspire kids creative work. Thanks for such a nice blog.Visit IndianArtZone , Keep posting!!.

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