Wheelie Painting

Make colorful tracks with toy cars. Rev up your preschooler’s divergent thinking and small motor skills with these easy prints.


This is messy fun. So prepare yourself, your child, and your work area accordingly. Check out our FAQ for helpful preschool art prep tips.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Liquid tempera paint, from a jar like this or tubes found here on Amazon. Start off with one primary color, like blue.  Add another color if desired.
  2. A 12 by 18 inch cookie sheet like this or any other similar-sized, washable tray with sides you have to hold your paint.
  3. Large paintbrush, we use a inexpensive, nylon brush that's about 2 to 3 inches wide like this example, for spreading paint in the tray
  4. A few washable, small wheeled toys such cars, trucks, motorcycles .... Here's an example of a fun assortment of Matchbox cars found online.
  5. Large sheets of paper cut from an easel-sized paper roll like this. If you don’t have a paper roll, you can use large sheets of newspaper. Or, use masking tape like this to piece together pieces of plain, white printer paper to make one, long piece. Remember, cellophane tape like this isn't paint-friendly. Head on over to our Materials page for even more preschool paper and tape guidance.
  6. Plastic table cloth like this one or newspaper to cover your work surface. Enthusiastic rolling will inevitably happen, so be ready!
  1. Grown-ups, start by taping your tablecloth to the floor with masking tape. Then tape your paper on top of the table cloth. We prefer to do this activity on the floor, but you can make do on a large table as well. Your choice!
  2. Next, pour a big glob of paint onto the cookie sheet or tray. At least 4 teaspoons per paint color will do. Spread the paint evenly on the tray with the paintbrush, so that the paint sticks to the wheels and not the flat bottom of the toy. Now move the cookie sheet with paint to the floor.
  3. Skilly-spark: Talk with your child about how they will be using the wheel toys and paint to make designs. How about the directions the toys can move? Up and down, side or side, in circles, turning left or right.
  4. Ask your child to choose a wheelie toy. Now, roll it through the paint, back and forth so the wheels are completely covered.
  5. It’s time to drive the toy over the piece of paper, making tracks and designs to their heart’s content.
  6. Skilly-spark: As your child is driving their car, suggest moving it like it’s speeding across a race track. Then, pretend it’s driving on ice. Then it’s going through in thick, heavy mud. Your child will likely come up with even more creative ways for the toy to move.
  7. If your little one is still interested, choose another wheel toy to drive into the paint and print with. See how this toy’s tracks compare with their first wheel toy?
  8. Feel like experimenting with color mixing? Add a different color of paint in the tray. This way, your primary colors will mix both in the tray and on the paper.
  9. To clean your toys, soak in a dish pan or fill your sink and let them sit for about an hour. Remember, washing up-- also known as driving around in big puddles-- can be good fun too!


Keep the fun going
  • On a warm, sunny day, take your wheelie painting outside!
  • Save your child’s prints to make one-of-a-kind wrapping paper or stationery.
  • Older children, ages 4 years and up, can create a driving-scene from their town, neighborhood or imagination. Once their print dries, they can embellish their car’s path with crayons, markers or more paint.