Activity - Zip-a-dee Painting

Zip-a-dee Painting

It’s a snap to make instant, engaging-- and re-usable!-- finger painting toys with your plastic bags. Plus, squishing paint around stirs up your preschooler’s science learning and small motor skills.


This activity can get messy. Also, enthusiastic finger painting may cause the paint to seep out of the bag. Check out our FAQ for tips to prepare yourself, your child, and your work area accordingly.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Liquid paint, 1 to 2 teaspoons. We prefer to use tempera paint in jars. Paint from tubes like these or finger paint found here on work fine too.  Note that using too much paint in the bag will make the effect of your preschooler’s fingers hard to see. If you'd like to mix colors, use 1 teaspoon per color. 
  2. Gallon-size, ziplock freezer bags, like these. Because freezer bags are heavier, they work best with this activity. If you plan to use just one color paint, the regular zip-top freezer bags are fine. If you plan to add colors and other materials as you go, the slider-type ziplock bags like these work best because they are easier to open and close with paint-filled paws.
  3. Optional - Vegetable oil found here, 1-2 teaspoons
  4. Optional - Water, 1-2 teaspoons
  5. Optional - We use fine glitter like this. The chunky kind of glitter found here doesn’t move well through paint.
  1. Grown-ups, place 1-2 teaspoons of fingerprint into the plastic bag. Then, zip it closed, being careful to remove the extra air from the bag, from the bottom up. Place the bag on a flat surface.  
  2. Skilly Spark: Talk with your child about how to move the paint with their fingers. Ask how many different ways they can make the paint move.  
  3. Let your child start finger painting on the bag.  
  4. Skilly Spark: As your child is manipulating the paint in the bag, suggest moving the paint with knuckles, whole hand, one finger, all five fingers, elbows, and any other way your kid comes up with.
  5. If your preschooler is still interested, open the bag and put in a teaspoon of different color paint to see how colors mix. This is where a slider top bag works best.
  6. To make even more changes, add 1-2 teaspoons oil and water.  Close the bag and have fun seeing how this affects the paint.
  7. For a dramatic effect, you can add a few dashes of glitter.
  8. Once the interest wanes, save your Zip-a-dee Painting and reuse when you need a quick, creative time-filler. It will last at least 2 weeks as long as it stays closed.
Keep the fun going
  • Add small toys to the mix by running toy cars, building blocks or other small objects over the bag to see what happens.
  • It's not just for little fingers! Place your Zip-a-dee Painting on the floor and wiggle-waggle barefoot toes on the bag in different directions.