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How to do bubble painting

Get ready to make colour magic! Bubble painting is the ultimate messy play activity – it's cheap, easy to set up and children love it. We're here to show you how it's done

Add more colours for different effects

Bubble painting is one of our all-time favourite kids craft activities for rainy days. Bubble art is quick to set up and a guaranteed way to keep kids happy. I’ve tried it with children of all ages and have found toddlers to teens are fascinated.

For younger children, bubble painting is a magical sensory play activity. They’re delighted to blow the straw and touch the bubbles. You just need to watch out in case they try and suck on the straw and use a child-friendly, non-toxic paint just in case.

Pre-schoolers and school children will enjoy mixing the colours and experimenting with different effects (this tutorial was tested on my own children who are at primary school). It can be surprisingly therapeutic for teenagers too – they can use bubble-painted paper to decorate DIY gift wrapping or create marble-effect notebook covers.

One of the great things about bubble painting is that you’ll probably have most of the supplies you need already at home.

It’s one of the messier kids’ crafts out there, so cover your work surface with a wipe-clean tablecloth before you start. Dress kids with aprons if you’re worried about paint getting on their clothes. It will get everywhere and that’s part of the fun.

I first tried bubble art when I was in pre-school. I remember it fondly as my mum was also my preschool teacher, and she’d test out messy play ideas on us at home. I’ve continued the habit with my own children. We’ve tried everything from making our own play dough to rainbow rice.

Bubble painting video tutorial

Which paint should you use for bubble painting?

You can use most everyday or liquid kids’ types of paint for bubble painting. Use a child-safe, non-toxic paint like tempera paint or any water-based paint. Most non-toxic, child-friendly paints will work just fine.

Scola Artmix Rainbow Paint set

We used Scola Artmix water-based paint in this tutorial. Scola is a brilliant, kid-friendly brand that my family has been using for years. They sell everything from paints and clay to glue and crayons. They’re a one-stop shop for all things crafting.

These paints are non-toxic, wheat and gluten-free and safe for children 3+. They’re affordable too with a good range of paints included in the bundle. Rainbow paints can be used for a huge range of crafts, not just bubble painting. Use them to paint these easy finger-painting ideas and our Halloween crafts for toddlers.

If you need to stock up on paints, here are the types of brands we love and trust for kids’ crafts in my family:

  • Crayola Washable Paints – Assorted colours (pack of 10 small pots) – Amazon, £7.68
  • Rainbow Colours Ready Mix Paint Set (8 x 600ml bottles) – Baker Ross, £13.95
  • Primary Colours Paint Set (5 x 150ml bottles) – Wilko £4.30

Can you use food colouring for bubble painting?

Yes, you can use food colouring to do bubble painting. It works in exactly the same way as using paint does. You may need to use quite a lot of colouring, or try extra strong food colouring, to give your bubbles a bright-enough colour.

We tested both paint and food colouring for this tutorial and preferred the effect we got from paint, but why not try bubble painting out with food colouring? If you like it, you can invest in a set of paints.

How to do bubble painting – easy method

All you need to do bubble painting is something to mix the paint in, a splash of washing-up liquid, a straw and some paint. Plus a piece of paper to do your bubble painting onto.

I’ve used paper cups and straws in this guide. They worked well but the cups started to split after about an hour – this delighted my children who found the paint-filled mess glorious to play with. We switched to glass tumblers from the kitchen after that and the paint washed easily away when we were finished, so we could use them for drinking again.

The paper straws also got a bit soft after a while, but as I picked up a pack of 150 straws for £5.99 on Amazon we didn’t come close to running out.


You Will Need

  • Measuring cups
  • Washing up liquid
  • Paint
  • Paper straws
  • white paper

Total time:

Step 1

Take some cups and fill them to half full with water. 

How to do bubble painting step 1 fill cups with water

Step 2

Squirt a bit of washing up liquid into each cup.

Squirt some washing up liquid into each cup

Step 3

Add a dollop of paint into each cup and mix thoroughly with a spoon.

Add some paint into each cup

Step 4

Blow into each cup with a paper straw until bubbles fill the cup and rise above it. When you blow, place the bottom of the straw so it almost touches the bottom of the cup. This is where most of the paint will fall to in the water, so will create a brighter bubble.

Blow into the cups with a straw

Step 5

Place a piece of paper on top of the cups gently, to transfer the coloured bubbles on to the paper.

Place some paper on to the cups

Step 6

If at first the bubbles only leave a very faint pattern on the paper, try adding a splash more paint, and mixing the paint again more thoroughly. Now blow a new set of bubbles and print again on to the same piece of paper as you used in step 4.

How to do bubble painting step 6 repeat

Step 7

Repeat the process of blowing more bubbles and placing your paper on top a few times – to build up a bubble pattern of overlapping bubbles on your piece of paper. 

How to do bubble painting step 6b finish

Step 8

Try experimenting with different colours to create different effects.

Try different colours to create different patterns

5 easy bubble painting ideas

Bubble art is a cheap and fun way to play creatively with young children. You can use the results as homemade wrapping paper or cut them into DIY gift cards. Or just stick them on the fridge – the tried and tested kids art gallery method in my house!

Here are five of our favourite ways to turn your bubble art into works of art worthy of a gallery…

1. Bubble art trees

Blow bubble art circles in different colours, then when the paint has dried draw a tree trunk and branches on top with a black pen. Try Hello Wonderful’s guide to how to make watercolour bubble art trees.

Bubble art trees

2. Bubble art flowers

Paint a few leaves around the bubbles to turn them into flowers with this tutorial for 5 Minute Bubble Painting Hydrangea.

Bubble art flowers

3. Bubble art monsters

Add googly eyes to make bubble painted monsters with cute idea by Made to be a Momma.

Bubble art monsters

4. Bubble art animals

Cut animal shapes out of your bubble art to make a collage. We love these rainbow fish from Juggling with Kids.

Easy bubble painting ideas animals

5. Use negative space to add alphabets

Spell out letters on your paper with masking tape before you press your paper on to the bubbles, then remove the tape when the paint is dry to create letters or lines of negative space in your bubble art. Find out how with this guide by The Best Ideas for Kids.

Easy bubble painting ideas letters

Find more rainy day ideas for easy kids crafts

If you enjoyed the tutorial, good news – it’s part of our jam-packed kids crafts section.

We’ve got more easy crafts for all ages plus video tutorials to some of our favourite messy play crafts over on our You Tube channel Gathered Makes.

If messy play is your thing, try our easy salt dough recipe.

Easy salt dough recipe