Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Eco Kids paint is food safe finger paint made just for your little ones. We used colors that we noticed growing in the garden. Building nature connection one masterpiece at a time.
After our daily walk to say hello to the garden, E and I were feeling artistic (read 'Mama had to do some dishes and E needed to be occupied'). I picked up Eco Kids paint at my local sustainable children's toy store the other day - I've used these paints with other kids but was excited to try them out at home.
Let me run through our experience with Eco Kids Finger Paint, what I thought as a Mama trying to get things done around the house, and offer some alternatives. I have my eyes on another brand of food based paint at the toy store, so I'll do a product review soon. As someone with 12+ years of experience teaching children, I have a pretty good eye for paints that work, and those that don't. To add to those years of prepping paint supplies, I also make my own natural pigment paints. So, new paints really have to show up and show out for me to find them worthwhile.
I Need a Simple Set-up. What d'ya got, Eco Kids?
When I am setting up an activity for E, I need something quick and easy - and something that I could prep while balancing her on my hip. Eco Kids fits the bill for easy prep. All you need to do is mix the paint powered with water, using a 1:1 ratio. That. Is. It. How easy?! Now, I will say, the paint is a little runny so you might want to experiment with a slightly adjusted ratio. We stuck to the recommended 1:1 and it was quite fun for E to slap the paint and watch it splatter all over. I set E up in her highchair, poured some paint on different spots on the tray, and just let her go to town.
Taste, Texture, and Overall Appeal
Of course I taste tested the paint, why wouldn't I? I somewhat remembered tasting it previously but wanted to remind myself. It has a bit of a corn starch-y taste (not bad, but not good - ya know?), but somehow does not have that viscous corn starch texture. E approved of the texture but was not impressed by the taste.
As soon as I poured some dollops onto E's highchair she was all over it. Smacking, splattering, shrieking with joy. I'd say the overall appeal, as far as E was concerned, was there. For me, the appeal was in the ease of prep and then the ease of clean up. After E was done I brought her to a water bin on the floor to play (pretty smart thinking, I know ; ) and then a couple of wipes with my Swedish dishcloths cleaned the highchair right up.
Overall, Eco Kids paints get a yay from me! They are easy, plant based, safe, and fun. The price tag is a little high for those on a budget, but a one time purchase should last you a while. And honestly, the price tag absolutely reflects the work that I know went into creating these paints.
I've linked them throughout the page, but you can purchase directly from Eco Kids. Or, check your local toy stores for this brand and ask them to carry it if they don't already!
If Eco Kids is not in your budget, or you just want to play around with some other paint possibilities, you are in luck! There are plenty of ways to make your own food based, non-toxic paints.
For Babies & Toddlers
These recipes are safe to eat and do not include thickeners like egg yolk or honey. However, they do involve using food, so it may not be possible for every family.
For Kids Who Won't (Necessarily) Eat the Paint
If you have kids old enough to understand "this paint is not safe to eat", there are so many more options! My first recommendation is to check out The Organic Artist for Kids by Nick Neddo. This is a FANTASTIC resource for all things organic art.
But, if you're looking for other recipes, take a look at ones that I've tried below:
This paint is super easy and the ingredients can easily be found online or at a local health food store. As you choose your powdered herbs you can make guesses about what color paint it will produce!
This is the simplest paint out there! Pick some nice, green leaves (be sure to ask the tree for permission first!) and mash them with a rock or mallet. Then, add a couple of drops of water and you have green paint!
But Emily, How Does This Build Nature Connection?
I'm glad you asked! I'll sing it from the rooftops: nature connection does not need to be a big, adventurous excursion to the deep wilderness. In this case, we reinforced what we noticed in the garden (our cosmos as blooming and tomatoes and peppers are flowering, highlighting beautiful reds and oranges) with some creative expression. And, using plant based paints only adds to the idea of connecting with Mama Earth!
When it comes down to it, fostering nature connection involves a routine centered around nature (whatever nature looks like for you, in your unique space), challenging our knowledge about nature, connecting with our place (start with the nature in your backyard, not the polar bears), and building comfort in being outside. When you choose paints for an activity, choose colors that reflect what you're seeing outside (or ask your older child to choose!). Use plant based paints when possible, and make your own to explore the pigments you can find in your nature neighborhood. There are many ways to build nature connection!