Watercolor with Droppers 3

Watercolor with Droppers: A Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

With just water, food coloring, a paper towel, and a dropper, you can have a creative and stimulating activity for your toddler! This dropper art activity is such a simple craft project to do on a rainy day (or any day, really) to entertain your busy toddler while also making it a learning experience!

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This arts and crafts project requires zero prep time to set up and you most likely already have the materials at home! Aren’t those the best kind of projects? ????




-Food coloring

-Small bowls

-Large, shallow bin

-Paper towel


Make Colored Water

The first thing to do is make the colored water! Using plastic containers (like the kind you get for take-out sauces) or a small bowl, fill it with a little bit of water. I used these small, 2-inch porcelain ramekins, which were the perfect size. While these are fragile, Remy doesn’t tend to try and flip things over (yet), so I felt comfortable using the ramekins.

To the water, add a few drops of your chosen food coloring and mix until you achieve the desired color. Repeat with as many colors as you want! I recommend to limit to 3 or 4 colors since too many colors can become too muddled. For Remy’s, I chose the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.

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Before you let your little one go wild with the colored water, consider covering them with a smock or bib to make clean up even easier! We have five of these smocks from Ikea and we love them for projects like these.

Ikea Smock

Set up

The set up for this activity is very simple! In a shallow baking dish, I added a paper towel, the colored water, and a dropper. That’s it! It’s all in one convenient tray that keeps the artistic magic (and mess) in one place. Remy is able to reach the colored water and paint away and the tray keeps the water contained. Furthermore, if your toddler saturates the paper towel before you’re able to replace it, the tray or bin is able to catch all that extra water.

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Time for “Painting”

After the 2-minute set up, it’s now time for your toddler to “paint”. This is not true painting in the traditional sense with a paintbrush, but rather with a dropper! Of course, at first, Remy treated the dropper as if it were a paintbrush and tried to scoop up the water! ????. You may have to demonstrate how to work the dropper, with squeezing the bulb part. Hand-over-hand demonstration works well with this. Remy might have been too young to pull the water up by squeezing, so I filled the dropped with the color for him. Then he had fun squeezing the bulb to let the colored water out onto the paper towel.

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This activity is great because it can last as long as your little one wants it to. Once a paper towel is all colored, add a new and dry one! You can even mix up the colors with each new paper towel and use different colors each time. The options are endless!

Lessons Learned

While this dropper watercolor activity may seem like a great time for your toddler, you’re actually helping them learn and work on their fine motor development (???? shh don’t tell them). As they are dropping different colored water onto the paper towel, the colors will bleed together, forming new colors. Discuss with them what they are seeing. How yellow and red make orange or how a bigger squeeze of the dropper makes a bigger water mark.

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The motion of squeezing the bulb develops their fine motor skills, mainly their pincer grasp. Some toddlers may switch hands while some may just prefer to stick with one hand for the entire activity.

Clean up

Once your little one has had their fill with dropper watercolor painting, simply lay the colored paper towels flat to dry. When they are dry, you have beautiful artwork as a souvenir. For the rest of the clean up, dump the colored water down the sink and rinse your small bowels and tray or bin and you’re done!

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Remy loved this dropper watercolor painting activity. He may have even squeezed some water over our poor English bulldog, Juggernaut, to see what would happen! Since this project is so simple to set up and clean up, but Remy is learning so much, we’re definitely adding this to our growing list of favorite activities to do! Would you do this activity with your little one? What colors would you choose?

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