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Tips For Using Paint Sticks With Children

Come explore a new art material that kids, parents and teachers love using! These paint sticks are not your average painting experience and one that all children will love to experiment with.

yellow, red, green, blue paint sticks.

Tempera paint sticks are tube-like paints that go smoothly onto paper. Kids will say it is like painting with a glue stick or lipstick.

Even adults will love using paint sticks because they glide on the paper while giving opaque and vibrant colors.

Why You Will Love This Supply

  • KID FRIENDLY – Any age child can use paint sticks.
  • NO MESS WAY TO PAINT– You don’t need water and paint brushes to use paint sticks.
  • EASILY COVER LARGE AREAS – These are a much faster way to get a solid color on large pieces and posters.
  • DRIES QUICKLY – Most brands will dry in 90 seconds on paper.

How To Use Paint Sticks With Young Children

  • Model proper use and even show how to pull them out of the box.
  • Only use one at a time. If not you will open yourself up to get all the packs mixed up.
  • If you have enough sets, share them with the person next to you.
  • Show how “one click will do you” like a glue stick
  • Tell kids you don’t want to have paint boogers (kids love it when you can relate Art to boogers). We say “boogers” anytime there is too much or extra of something (paper boogers when they rub the brush back and forth when painting, clay boogers when working on relief tiles, etc.)
  • They can click a little more if they want to use the side of the paint stick top on an angle. This will help them do more detailed work.
  • They should go slow and steady.
orange paint stick adding color to white paper.

Paint Stick Options

Here are a few of our favorite brands to use.

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Techniques To Try

There is no wrong way to use this fun art medium. Experimenting with these fun colors is a great way to learn how to use them.

Overlap Colors

Demonstrate how they can overlap and blend colors. Some colors will work better on top of others.

blue, green, light blue colors on paper.

Use On Top Of Watercolor Paints

Draw on top of watercolor paintings or in mixed media art. Holding a paint stick like a crayon or marker will help kids create interesting line drawings and shapes.

Use On Top Of A Collage

Create beautiful backgrounds using bleeding tissue paper and let dry. Add your own tempera paint drawings on top for a fun look.

Mix While Wet

Mix when wet. You have about 90 seconds before the colors will dry on paper. You can smear these together to get a blend of the colors. Just note that they won’t mix like regular paint.

blue, green and light blue paint mixed together.


  • Don’t leave them without the caps off for too long. They will dry out.
  • These are great for large projects and posters.
  • Use different materials for small details to limit frustration.

Where To Use Paint Sticks

No matter what surface you use them on, you always want to test the medium first. These may work on some surfaces, but might not be as permanent as you would like. Here are few examples of where you can draw with paint sticks.

On Paper

One of the most common ways to use paint sticks is on paper. We love using them to show feelings in our Color Monster art project.

hand holding color monster art project.
Color Monster Art Lesson

On Glass or Clear Transparencies

Once dried, our tempera paint sticks did not rub off. You can still scrape the colors off with your fingernails or a sharp item. Adding a clear coat would protect your paint stick glass art.

sun drawn on glass with paint sticks.

On Cardboard

You can create fun and inexpensive drawings and posters on cardboard. We see a whole village of cardboard houses in our future.

gingerbread house drawing on cardboard.
It is hard to do small details with paint sticks. A larger piece of cardboard will work best.

Art Medium FAQs

Paint sticks are a fun way to draw and paint without making a huge mess. Marks on tables and hands can easily be cleaned.

Marks on tables or hands can easily be cleaned up with baby wipe, wet paper towel or a quick handwash.

No, while paint sticks look like glue they are just paint. They will be a little tacky when wet but do not act like glue.

The major drawback to using paint sticks is that it is difficult to color small details. You can help children with this problem by starting with a larger paper to begin with.

Follow us on Pinterest, YouTube, or Flipboard for more free art and craft ideas!

red, yellow and orange paint sticks.

More Fun Art Ideas

Now is the time to have some fun exploring all the ways you can use paint sticks to create colorful art.

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