How to Encourage Fine Motor Development: Sponge Painting

This is my 6 year olds finished image – our family going camping

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  • Things you probably have at home:
    • Washable Paint
    • Paper Plates
    • Construction Paper
  • Things to buy: Schedule a remind 2 weeks before you want to do this activity to buy supplies
    • Sponges – I like these because they are wavy so I can cut cooler shapes
    • Clothespins (wood) – these basic wooden ones are what I used, though they get stained with the paint
    • Clothespins (plastic) – these plastic ones may be easier to clean off (if that concerns you!)

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Ideal Age Range:

The ideal age for this is 3 – 4, because you can work more on manipulating the clothespins with the sponges.

Ages 1 – 2 will really enjoy just dipping things in paint and putting it on the paper. Ages 5 – 6 will like to use the sponges like brushes and paint their own pictures (or stamp shapes).

Mess Factor:

Messy. This is paint so things will get messy. Use a table cover or newspaper on the table. I would use a splat mat under younger children, along with smocks or bibs. Put a plastic bin or container in the sink filled with soapy water before you start – then you can drop all of this in once you are done.

Bath factor – after my one year old did this, I stripped his clothes off and just dropped him right into the bath to clean up fully.

Prep Time:

10 – 15 minutes.


Active Instructions:

  1. Cut your sponges into smaller pieces and/ or shapes
    • I got a little creative with shapes – you can see the picture – but really any shape works. If your kids are younger shapes matter less.
  2. Clip each piece of sponge with a clothespin
  1. Use a paper plate or paint palette to offer 6 – 8 different color options.
    • Use a paper plate with younger children since it will be easier to dip
  2. Put out construction paper and let kids go wild!
    • For younger kids, you may want to tape down the paper to keep it in one spot

My toddlers final picture!

There are no rules for children using the sponges to paint. The clothespins help with fine motor skills, but feel free to let the kids just paint with the sponges – the texture different is great. If you want you can also break out brushes and let them create their own masterpiece.

Clean Up

When everyone is done, simply throw sponges/ clothespins/ brushes into a bin filled with soapy water in your sink. I had to strip my toddler down and deposit him in the bathtub – watch your own clothes as you do this – but older children will be less messy! Paper plates fold up and can be easily thrown away. Place the artwork somewhere that it can dry for a few hours and then proudly display their masterpiece!!


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If you want to pin this project, please use the image below.

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