Salt Painting a Colorful at-Home Fun STEAM Craft

Create a unique work of art using salt, glue, and water color paint

By Heather Griffin, publisher of Macaroni KID Franklin, Tenn. September 3, 2021

What to do when you hear: "Mommy, can we do a craft today?" My son asks me this question almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day. 

While we have a closet full of art supplies, purchased with good intentions on rainy days, I rarely have the brain power to dream up - or search Pinterest for new ways to use them to make an easy at-home craft. I could give him a sheet of art paper, a brush, and some washable paint, but if I don't give at least some direction, we'll end up with another incident like the Glitter Bomb Disaster of '21. We're all still sparkly from that one. 

So I asked Lacy Ezell, the owner of TN Art Yard, which teaches art classes to toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children, for easy at-home ideas for kids to create.

She told me about "salt painting." 

Read on for Lacy's instructions on how to do this easy at-home art project with your children:

Lacy Ezell, TN Art Yard

Salt painting

What you need:

  • Watercolor paper, or another heavy duty mixed media paper 
  • White glue 
  • Salt
  • Liquid watercolor - or food coloring + water
  • Brushes and/or pipettes

What to do:

1. Find a good working area. Outdoor or kitchen tables are great.  

2. Using the glue, draw a design onto your paper. Younger children will make dots, lines, and squiggles. Older children may want to create a unique pattern or object.

Lacy Ezell, TN Art Yard

3. While glue is wet, sprinkle salt onto paper until all glue is coated. Shake excess salt off.

4. Using your pipette, collect and drop color onto the salt and watch it move! Watch the magic as colors combine to create new colors. 

5. Once your child is done experimenting, set the painting aside to dry and hang in a special place for others to see. 

Lacy Ezell, TN Art Yard

Lacy's helpful hints:

  • Use a baking sheet or tray under paper for minimal mess.
  • Before painting, ask your child what salt is, what it is used for and how do they think they are going to use it for their painting. If kids are old enough, you may want to talk about certain physical properties of salt, particularly when combined with water.
  • If you do not have liquid watercolor, no problem! Use your watercolor palette and a brush instead of pipettes. 
  • Avoid adding too much water to the salt if possible. If it's too wet the painting can quickly become runny. 
  • While painting, talk about color mixing! 
  • Once finished and dry, hang your child’s artwork for others to see. Art is always a great talking point for kids! Plus, it helps them feel even more confident to explore their next art project with you.

Heather Griffin is the publisher of Macaroni KID Franklin, Tenn.