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Water: The best paint ever!
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Water: The best paint ever!

A top ten list

by Shelly Hudson Bowman, Professor
Auburn University at Montgomery Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology

Water play has long been a part of our science curriculum (TEKS; Yet most teachers have not thought to add it in science and across the entire curriculum - with the stroke of a brush. Using water as paint is a medium for exploration, opening many opportunities for teaching and learning.

In true David Letterman style, this article offers a top ten list of ways in which teachers can use water as the best paint ever not only in science but aero the curriculum. A top ten list for teachers follows: 

Top Ten Reasons to Water Paint

10 - Build physical skills. Before beginning to paint with water, consider child development in an effort to build your students' physical skills. Painting with large or parent size brushes help young children develop small muscle skills. This activity will strengthen their ability to write as well. Provide small paint brushes for older children and/or large brushes too, for creative differences in their painting masterpieces.

9 - Health - There is no better time to paint with water than on a warm day. Of course, if you haven't thought this already! yes, your students may decide to "paint" one another. Yet with water there are no worries. Rules must be established before the lesson begins, but painting exposed arms with water provides a cooling effect on a warm day. Take this opportunity to teach perspiration and its value to our body.

8 - Language Arts. Build water vocabulary by sharing new words such as "steam, bubbly, and moisture" (Retrieved from

7 - Music. Play music as students paint to inspire their work. While most studies no longer support the notion that listening to music builds our brains, listening to music can be "relaxing and contemplative" (

6 - Art. Even though student paintings may only last for a few minutes (depending on weather conditions), you can take pictures of each and create artistic displays of them in your classroom. Or, collect all and make a water painting class book. While the art may be gone, it will live on forever in your classroom library's collection of favorite books.

5 - Social Studies. By using geography, talk with your students to decide where they are permitted to paint. Can you paint on the east side of the school building? Perhaps on the north side? Use compasses to determine directions.

4 - Science. Discovery helps students understand the definition of absorption as they paint with on different mediums such as concrete and brick.

3 - More science. Through cause and effect use painting with water to teach the concept of evaporation as the warm sun makes water paintings evaporate.

2 - The most science! Take this opportunity to teach your students about conservation. According
to, "Using faucets in your home for personal hygiene such as brushing your teeth takes up approximately 12 percent of your home's water usage." Challenge your students to turn off the water at home while brushing their teeth. At school, only enjoy painting with water once or twice a year.

And the number one reason that water is the best paint EVER?

l - It's just plain fun! And clean up's a snap!

READERS NOTES: As with all teaching safety, thorough supervision is the number one goal. Additionally, it is assume that painting with water will be done outside. Don't forget to apply the sunscreen!

References TEKS

The Science Teachers Association of Texas



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