Powder Art: (Almost) mess-free paint-by-numbers

Powder Art I'm a sucker for any art project that touts itself as "mess-free," so when the Powder Art folks wrote to me about their project kits, I wanted to know more. Veteran Parenthacker Jill and her two boys gave Powder Art kits a try, and wrote this review:

We made our Powder Art projects today. My five and eight year-old boys were eager testers. They both love art and are often restrained by our house's lack of a dedicated "messy area." Each kit came with four designs to be colored with a dry "paint" powder made from recycled paper. The project is simple; each design comes printed on sticker paper. Each time you want to paint a section of the picture, you peel off the backing and color it in with the powder. [Note: Powder Art is safe for kids of all ages, but is intended for the 5 and older crowd. — Ed.]

All in all, it was a fun project for the boys, but it required a bit of help from me. The first step was to fill the palettes with powder which I found to be a pain — I wish they had come prefilled. Next, it was time to paint. Neither could peel the stickers off independently, and I helped a good bit. We also found that it was easier to get the paint onto the paper with fingers rather than the paintbrush that came with the kit.

The box showed the colored-in pictures on the cover which I hid it from the boys to see if they'd be more creative. My five year-old was, but my eight year-old saw the color-by-number chart and wanted to follow it. The area that he did "wrong" upset him and there was no way to "erase" (his only complaint about the product). The 5yo made a "red stuffed animal monkey" and was happy.

The project left behind a gray dust on the table, chairs and floor (and faces and hands) — which easily cleaned up — as well as tiny bits of sticker paper. While this is not "mess-free" in my opinion (I truly put Color Wonder kits in that category, but won't buy them due to their price) it was simple and easily cleaned up. It was a fun for the kids, and I'm sure they would soon learn to peel off the tiny stickers. (Maybe Mama shouldn't cut their fingernails so close!)

sdbr_paint.jpgJill is a stay at home mom of two boys, Pook and Bug. In her former life she was a Special Education Preschool teacher. With both, she has always tried to provide lots of opportunities for creative art.

Win it! We've got Powder Art kits for three lucky Parenthackers! Get in the running by telling us your favorite mess-free (or easily cleaned up) art project in the comments. I'll draw three names at random tomorrow (March 17) at 5pm PST, and will announce the winners tomorrow evening. Good luck!


  1. Judy says

    Vanilla pudding with food coloring as edible finger paint…kind of messy, but you could clean up and have a snack at the same time.

  2. says

    Perfect for summer days…painting with water on the driveway! Totally mess free – and if there’s an accident, hey! Free bath!

  3. Karli says

    I love “Go Paint!” by Elmers. It’s similar to Color Wonders, but cheaper, and the kids actually get a feel for real paint brushes, but it requires no water, and doesn’t get on anything but the special paper.

  4. Paul says

    Living in Florida, we have ice races down my patio walkway since it is declined a bit. We race to see who can go the farthest before melting!!

  5. Prerna says

    bath crayons in the tub, no worries about cleanup, as everything gets washed away….

  6. says

    I’m a fan of any creativity done outside. Last summer (when our girl was 18 months) we let her have at a huge roll of paper layed out in the yard with some washable finger paints. The grass got painted, she was covered, the driveway and trees were colorful. best part is that cleanup is as easy as getting the sprinkler out!
    Now that she’s older, sidewalk chalk works just as well.

  7. Kasie says

    Crayons? Those don’t make a mess! Also, my son loves to use chalk and water outside as “paint”. He grinds up the chalk, adds some water and has lots of fun. He gets wet but its fun when it’s warmer out.

  8. says

    Today we play with those shape foam stickers and “painted” a picture of our family. It’s easy for a little kid who hasn’t quite mastered drawing yet. My 3yo gets frustrated when her circles aren’t perfect. So this is a great tear free activity. Easy to clean too!

  9. Jen L. says

    I find Play-Doh to be one of the most unexpectedly messy substances, with tiny dried pieces left everywhere. To solve this, in our house, Play-Doh is now an “outside” toy. They can play with it as much as they want on the deck, picnic table, etc., and it’s easy to sweep up/wash away. It makes Play-Doh more fun, since it’s now a seasonal thing to look forward to.

  10. Jen says

    Pictures made with the foam stickers. All you have to clean up is the paper from the back of the stickers.

  11. Alice S says

    Everything that we do seems to be messy, but I let them do it anyway. Coloring, watercolor painting, playdough, glue, cutting, and even glitter. They’re only little once and the messes are (usually) a small inconvenience. Mealtime is pretty much as messy as our art time (and occurs 3-5 times a day).

  12. Lisa P says

    We like the color wonders fingerpaints and softsticks — the softsticks show up a bit quicker than the color wonder markers which makes my little one happy, while still clean — a winwin for everyone :)

  13. Lisa P says

    I should have added — I too think the color wonder kits are pricey — I usually try and buy them at Joann’s Craft Stores or Michaels Craft Stores with the 40% or 50% coupon they put in the newspaper every Sunday — it makes them a little more affordable!

  14. says

    I don’t know that we really do mess free – my 3.5 yr old likes to color, and that’s not to bad. He also likes to do those Kumon books which aren’t too messy. :)

  15. says

    I love all the Color Wonder mess free stuff, but the easiest, quickest, mess-free activity I know is painting with water on the sidewalk & driveway!

  16. Eric says

    I am a power tool guy, so my shop vac and I follow around the wake my two little tikes make.

    Water colour books where the colour is embedded in pages and all you need is to wet the brush is pretty neat stuff.

  17. says

    We love to play with shaving cream in the bath. A favorite activity is to spread it around on the walls then use a finger to ‘draw’ in it. Tons of fun (even if the kids smell a bit like grandpa at the end!)

  18. says

    I actually have 2!
    1) sidewalk chalk! Stick ‘em outside for hours with a bucket of chalk; hose ‘em down when their done! (not recommended for winter use! :P )
    2) The crayola magic marker thingy that only writes on the paper it comes with! who ever thought this one up deserves a prize!

  19. says

    Sadly we’re still looking for a mess-free project. Chalk on the driveway is about the best one we have right now, though.

  20. Jonathan Freeman says

    My kids love playing with clay. It’s kinda messy but they really love it.


  21. Vivian says

    With an 18 month old we have not truly found a mess free art project though the aqua doodle seem to be pretty good. Only it has a short life span because my darling daughter tries to eat the pen. But it doesn’t make a mess it’s just short lived

  22. Andrea says

    We love color wonder. I stock up when I find it on sale/clearance. Comes in handy for long car trips also.

  23. Lizzy says

    My 2 year old daughter likes making collages with a glue stick and different conctruction paper shapes. It is is pretty low mess project that is fun for her.

  24. kelly jeanie says

    We like the foam shapes with a glue stick, add some wooden popsicle sticks and you can make all sorts of things. Not too messy as long as you don’t stick anything to the table. :)

    These kits look neat, thanks!!

  25. Steph says

    I like to give my 16 month old a marker in his highchair. A bath, and a baby wipe for the booster seat…all done!

  26. Lydia says

    My 2yrold LOVES Water Wow. We bought it at AC Moore, and she uses it every day. It uses a water pen to uncover a colorful image and you can use it over again when it’s dry. I used one of those %40 coupons too.