Mirror Painting With Toddlers

by Melanie on October 16, 2013

Now that we have most of our upstairs living area organized after the move (finally!), it’s time to take out the boxes of decorations and add the final touches to each room. One of those final touches is a large mirror we will be hanging in the living room…

But not until after we’ve used it for mirror painting!

I found this idea on another blog a while back, but unfortunately cannot for the life of me find that blog to give it credit. That’s how it goes with so many of these toddler arts and crafts ideas. I browse websites for inspiration and remember the ones that stick out, even if I can’t find them again. The Internet is just a melting pot of creative ideas for fun toddler activities!

I want to pass this one on to others because it’s such a fun art project for little ones and a simple one for us parents to set up and clean up.

What you’ll need:

  • A mirror
  • Paint
  • A paint tray
  • Paintbrushes
  • A water bowl for the paint

I used three different sized paintbrushes and four paint colors. A large mirror would be the best because tots can see their entire bodies reflected as they paint (and we know how they love their own reflections!), but really any size would work. I also recommend a painting shirt for your wee ones- preferably an over-sized t-shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty. Rocket has one, but wasn’t wearing it for this project. Oops!

Expect some degree of a mess. It would be wise to use washable paints designed for children (the ones we used here were actually finger paints) and to have some cleaning towels handy.

The invitation he walked in on looked like this:

Mirror Painting (1)

I set the supplies together on a tray and let him get creative with it!

If you give this a shot at home, be very careful not to dictate what they do in the actual process of painting. The point of toddler arts and crafts is to hone their creativity and that can only be done if you allow their imagination to run free.

The only time I offered input for Rocket was when his paintbrush veered anywhere aside from the glass and in teaching him how to clean the brushes off with water before using a new color. I didn’t tell him what to do regarding where to paint on the mirror canvas or which colors to choose. I let him decide!

And he started with red.

Mirror Painting (2)

Painting his face red.

Then, he switched to blue.

Mirror Painting (3)

He enjoyed the process of cleaning the paintbrush and dipping it into a new color. I guided him on how to do it, but he insisted on doing it without help, which is typical for almost two year olds!

Next, he added some yellow to the glass canvas.

Mirror Painting (4)

It was very neat for him to see his own reflection as he painted. This was different from every other painting project he’s done for that reason.

He has told me time and time again that his favorite color is blue. It was no surprise then, that after a dash of yellow, he returned to blue. Then back to yellow again! There was his creative mind at work, deciding which colors to use to complete his painting.

Mirror Painting (5)

At this point, he also decided to switch to the medium-sized paintbrush.

Mirror Painting (6)

Next, he wanted to try painting with yellow using the medium-sized paintbrush.

He got really into the whole project!

Mirror Painting (7)

Deeply concentrated on his work of art… with some paint on his chin to show for it!

Mirror Painting (8)

Cleaning off the medium-sized paintbrush to switch to the small one.

Mirror Painting (9)

Adding thin strokes with the small paintbrush.

The final dash of color he chose to add was green, one he hadn’t used much up to that point.

Mirror Painting (10)

I could tell he was really getting into it when he stood up to paint from a new perspective.

Mirror Painting (11)

Reaching the far corner of his glass canvas to add a splash of green.

Mirror Painting (12)

He picked up the paint as he worked, for easier dipping. Here, he is sporting the head tilt of a real painter!

He was barely talking to me at all by the end of the painting. He was so immersed in what he was doing that he was truly lost in his own creative world… just what I wanted!

Then, when I least expected it, he put his paintbrush in the bowl, gave the mirror painting one final look-over, and gave me the “All Done” ASL wave while saying in a matter-of-fact tone, “All done!”

The completed piece:

Mirror Painting (13)

Of course, art is in the process, not the product. It lives and grows in the artist, not on the canvas. As I explained that lesson to him, we wiped the mirror clean together and headed to the bathroom to wash our paintbrushes, the paint tray, and our hands (and legs and arms and face).

The wonderful thing about mirror painting is that we can do it again and again and again, using the same canvas. And you can bet that we will!



Swing by these blogs for other fun things to do with kids:

Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas

No Time For Flash Cards

Rainy Day Mum


Living Montessori Now

True Aim

The Educator’s Spin On It

A Mama’s Story

Hip Homeschool Moms

Crystal & Company

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna@The Measured Mom October 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm

You are a brave mama to do this next to the couch. 🙂 I’ve seen this idea around too, and it has a lot of kid appeal! For all ages, I’m sure. Thanks for sharing at After School!


Rebecca October 20, 2013 at 7:27 am

Oh this looks fun!

Just letting you know I’ve featured this on The Sunday Showcase this week: http://www.herecomethegirlsblog.com/2013/10/19/art-for-kids.html


Melanie January 9, 2014 at 6:24 am

Yay! Thanks. 🙂


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