We made some water colour rainbows, so that Cian (17 months old) could be involved too. Water colours are accessible to all ages, you can just differentiate by process.


  • Water colour paints
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper


I gave Cian some chunky water colour paints. The water colours can be removed from the tray, so I was able to take out the black and white. I demonstrated how to dip the brush in the water and then on to the red paint. He understood and after painting some red dots, he pointed to the blue to indicate that he was going to paint blue next.

Cian had seen me remove the black and white paints from the tray earlier, so it didn’t take long for him to take the red, yellow, green and blue out too. He placed them on the paper, then when he lifted the blue paint back up he spotted it had left a circular print. He then used the paints to make lots of prints.

Ioan and Finn had the smaller water colour sets and they painted a rainbow the more traditional way.

When the yellow paint prints started to dry I up, I showed him how to add more water to make it print again.

Once he’d satisfied himself with the printing, Cian swapped back to the paintbrush.

Their finished water colour rainbows:

DfES Outcomes for EYFS (2013)

Physical Development

Moving and handling (8 to 20 months)

  • Enjoys the sensory experience of making marks in damp sand, paste or paint.
  • Holds pen or crayon using a whole hand (palmar) grasp and makes random marks with different strokes.
  • Passes toys from one hand to the other.


Shape, space and measures (16 to 20 months)

  • Enjoys filling and emptying containers.

Understanding the world

The world (16 to 26 months)

  • Explores objects by linking together different approaches: shaking, hitting, looking, feeling, tasting, mouthing, pulling, turning and poking.

Expressive arts and design

Exploring and using media and materials (8 to 20 months)

  • Explores and experiments with a range of media through sensory exploration, and using whole body.