Learning and Development

Puddle Painting

Don’t let soggy conditions put your children off venturing outside – as Sue Willner explains, when the rain is falling, the playground can be their canvas…

When the weather is awful wouldn’t it be great to utilise the elements in children’s learning? At our setting we introduced the Powder Paint Puddle Picture activity, and it was an instant hit!

The activity was spontaneous, prompted by my supervisor, Nicola Mawby, and me on a very wet rainy day, when the children weren’t showing interest in going outdoors despite our free-flow policy. Powder Paint Puddle Pictures engage children, let them explore different textures and art mediums in an unusual way, and makes the weather a help rather than a hindrance. The creation of the artwork can be a stand-alone project, or used as an opportunity to interlink all areas of the EYFS – e.g. working together to explore colour, effects of the weather, using our bodies to explore space and to explore shapes and measures.

We ended up with the majority of the children outdoors, having fun whilst learning. One little boy exclaimed, “Wow, it’s snowed!”


Whether this activity is just an art project or becomes a cross-curricular activity, the creativity, enthusiasm and fun you’ll have, and the mess you make, will make for a memorable rainy day.

To start you will need to have at least two colours of powder paint available, some large sheets of paper, an area with several small to medium-sized puddles, and a pair of wellies. For textured paintings, you’ll need sand and glitter. Children need wellies and old clothes or overalls, as it gets messy!

Firstly, show the children how to tap some paint into a puddle and swirl it with your foot, brushes or sticks. Ask them what they think about the colour and patterns. Put a piece of paper near the puddle before walking through the puddle and then walking across the paper (or you can lay the paper across a bubbly puddle). A simple Powder Paint Puddle Picture has been created!

Main activities

1. Footprint paintings
Allow each child or group to put the paint in the puddle. If there is a choice of colours let them choose a couple for their puddle. Ask them to walk across the paper or stamp footprints on it to create their piece of art, or lay their paper over a bubbly puddle to create a puddle print.

2. Textured paintings
You can use new puddles or add to the old ones. Add some sand to one puddle (along with paint if a new puddle) and glitter to another puddle nearby (along with paint if a new puddle). Encourage the children to run in one puddle, then across the paper, then the other puddle, then across the paper, for a really interesting finish. Alternatively, they can sprinkle sand and/or glitter onto the footprint art they created in step one.

3. Different techniques
As well as making footprints, children can place paper round a puddle and jump up and down for a splash effect; use straws to blow the paint on to their paper; or use a selection of other objects – such as sponges, stamps, leaves, sticks, etc. – to move the paint onto and around their paper. Try adding some washing-up liquid to the puddles for a different effect, too!

Follow up

Learning and development can be extended by asking the children to talk about their art and their findings as well as what other resources they would like to add to the activity. You could also create a collage, or ask children to cut an interesting section from their art, which could be mounted for a fantastic display.

Useful questions

● How did the puddle get here?

● What clothing do we need to wear to keep us dry, clean and warm?

● What colours can we use?

● Which colours do we need to mix to make (insert colour here)?

● What happens when we jump in the puddles?

● What will happen if we jump higher?

● How many footprints have you made?

● What patterns/shapes can you see?

● Which shape/line is bigger/longer?

● What did you find out today?

● What did we do today?

● How can we make it better tomorrow?

Sue Willner is now the manager of St Michael’s Pre-School in Peterborough.