Beyond the Brush

Turn your toy trucks and tiny cars into paintbrushes with this fun and easy project.

HandsOn-Oct15-1If you’ve got kids, chances are you’ve got a stash of toy cars somewhere at home (hopefully NOT underfoot — ouch!). But have you dipped them in paint and let your kids go crazy with the results? At our art studio, Art a la Carte in Northeast Portland, we often lean toward tools to get children to start thinking out of the box, instead of just reaching for the expected paintbrushes.

Don’t stop at toy trucks and cars. Kids love to gather items they think would make exciting textures and designs on paper when dipped in paint. Maybe that means bouncy balls, corks or ribbons, as pictured — or use your imaginations! This can be an all-day experimental project starting with a scavenger hunt for tools. Process-oriented, open-ended art is so important to your child’s development. These types of projects expand their creativity, boost their confidence and make for great conversations.


  • White washable tempera paint
  • Trays for paint and water
  • Black card stock
  • Toy cars of different sizes and shapes
  • Kitchen utensils like potato mashers, forks and pancake flippers
  • Fun items like sponges, loofahs, balls or legos


  • 8 x 10 frames
  • spray paint


  1. Put the paint into trays. Add a tray of water, too, so that kids can clean off their “instruments.”
  2. Experiment with your tools to see what designs they make, then create shapes and textures on the black paper.
  3. To go a step further and turn these into wall-worthy art pieces, spray paint three or four frames in bright contrasting colors. Frame your dry paintings and hang on a wall for a beautiful series.

For more art projects for kids visit:

Aria Leighty
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