We definitely love a Play Invitation that brings movement and mark making experiences, and this one is a favorite no matter your children’s ages.

Using fly swatters to paint allows the child to explore larger, faster, and rougher movements that are often not achievable with other tools. With this proposal, children will develop skills such as color perception, strength, and coordination while exploring concepts such as amplitude, impact, or spread.

What Could Lead Us to This Play Invitation

  • Children have been curious about cause and effect;
  • Children are excited about splattering liquids, on the art table or at lunch, for example;
  • Children have been exploring their physical abilities like coordination, strength, and flexibility.

Materials Needed

  • Tempera paints
  • Kraft paper
  • Fly swatters
  • Trays or paper plates

Setting up This Play Invitation

  1. Lay bulletin board paper over a drop cloth on the floor, or vertically across a fence. Look for a place that’s large enough that you don’t have to worry about cleaning walls or school equipment, as the paint will fly!
  2. Pour the tempera paint in trays or onto paper plates, one per color.
  3. Keep paint bottles handy, as you may need to refill the trays with more paint.

    Tips: This activity MUST be done outside.

How to Create the Painting

  1. Invite children to use the fly swatter and swat the paint onto the paper.
Child swatting paint on large paper with fly swatter
Paint on large paper from child using fly swatter to paint

How to Nurture the Natural Unfolding of the Child’s Identity During This Play Invitation

  • Children have the right to be supported in their explorations, no matter how expansive. The educator must be there to serve the children, handling what is necessary to keep things running smoothly while the children are working. In this way, children can focus on their experience fully without interruptions, corrections, or reprimands.
  • Children have the right to be respected, no matter their particular way of being involved in an experience. Some children will use all the space on the paper, and others will concentrate on one spot. Some will use all the colors, and some will select one or two colors. Some will involve their whole body, and others will just watch. The educator needs to include and value all these individual forms of expression.

The Academic Learning Opportunities

  • MATH: Develop directionality and spatial awareness.
  • LANGUAGE: Build new vocabulary, using language to share ideas.
  • PHYSICAL: Develop hand-eye coordination, strength management, and core and back strength.
  • ART: Engage with new materials and techniques.


  • Continue exploring splattering techniques by offering paint-filled water balloons, and paper attached to a fence.

Book Recommendation

A colorful story about teamwork and perseverance.