Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dot Painters

Dot Painting

Dot painters come by various names: bingo markers, do-a-dots, and dotters, among others. They are simple but can help kids explore a new tool for painting.

Adults usually restrict themselves to dotting with dot painters. But young children don’t have this preconception about what they’re for. They typically drag them like brushes across the page until they see someone else banging them. The child in this picture figured out how to squeeze the bottle so hard the paint dribbled out and then waved the bottle around to make splashes. Luckily Mom knew to dress her child in an old shirt for school, even if it WAS white!

Child often pound so hard that the dots look more like splashes. If you haven’t tried it, do! It’s fun and for adults it’s a little like therapy. Children also like to try to peel the pads off the top. Peeling is one of those things I redirect from since once that top is off you can’t put it back on effectively.

I use dot painters at the easel and on a table for different perspectives. Changing the angle of something makes it a slightly different experience. Dot painters are great to take outside because it’s really easy to clean mulch and dirt off them, which you can’t say for many kinds of brushes.

We have two kinds of dot painters at school. Some are refillable and some are not. The refillable ones take awhile to get the paint from the bottle into the pad, but it’s nice to be able to select your own colors or let the children pick. The non-refillable ones seem to work a little better, but your color choices are limited and sometimes the bottles can’t be reused for anything, which is wasteful. Refill dot painters with liquid watercolor or food coloring mixed with water.

A note of caution: some bingo markers are NOT nontoxic and washable. Buy dotters labeled for use with children.


  1. We got some free dot painters this year and I haven't been able to use them yet. Sounds like you enjoy them. I REALLY have to remember to get these out.

  2. I used dot painters as the art thing to do when our original idea bombs or we have extra time for some reason. Last year we had enough of them that each classroom could keep a few all the time for that very purpose. They are so easy and they travel well.

    Just remember to keep those caps away from under-3s!