Shape painting

Create some bold and beautiful artwork and explore shapes. Great for Valentine's activities with the children. 

You will need

  • Thick paper or card (a roll of backing paper would work well)
  • Scissors
  •  Sticky-tac (or double folded masking tape or contact paper)
  • Paints and paintbrush
  • Small objects to draw around


1. Use one piece of the thick paper as your background.

2. Ask the children to draw round some of the objects on another piece of paper and cut them out. Try to find different shapes or ask them to draw their own. Shape sorter pieces work will for this. Do the children know the names of common shapes?  What about the more unusual ones such as an octagon or oval?

3. Help the children stick them using sticky-tac onto the background leaving space between – how many you use will depend on how big your paper is.

4. Encourage your child/ren to choose the colours of paint they would like to use, and help you to get it ready. Let them use the brushes to paint all over the picture, showing them how to be careful to dab the paint on the shapes (not to scrunch the shapes up).

5. Let the picture dry completely whilst you clean up together. Involve your child/ren in washing brushes and wiping down, and give them lots of praise for helping.

6. When the picture is dry, ask your child to carefully remove the shapes. The space underneath should be blank. Reveal all the shapes and display your very own artwork!

Extension ideas

  • Use this idea on a gift or card for a special day – you could use lots of heart shapes and your favourite colours to make something special for Valentine’s Day.
  • Use masking tape instead of shapes to create letters or numbers. How about asking your child/ren to make their initials - or if your paper is big enough they could spell out their whole name!
  • Have you tried resistance painting with crayons? Ask your child/ren to draw a picture or some letters or words in light coloured crayons and then see what happens if you paint lightly over the top with a water based paint! Can they guess what will happen? What about felt tip pens or pencils? Does this have the same effect?

Areas of Learning and Development (EYFS)

This activity support the following areas of learning and development. For more details, see our factsheet on the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Communication & Language Communication and language:
Listening and attention
Physical Development

Physical development:
oving and handling

Personal, Social and Emotional Development Personal, social and emotional development:

Self-confidence and self-awareness 
Health and self-care

Personal, Social and Emotional Development Mathematics:
Shape, space and measures
Understanding the World Understanding the world:
The world
Expressive Art & Design Expressive arts and design:
Exploring and using media and materials