Keeping Clean

Some tips for keeping clean during and after a project.


After my last post, a friend commented “Just thinking of allowing paint anywhere near my house gives me palpitations. how do you do it??” My kids are a little older than hers, and she is renting a furnished apartment, but I am sure her quandary is not unique. Here are few ideas to help you keep up with the during and after-craft mess.

But first a disclaimer: I always say that mess shows that you were having fun. Let the playroom look like a disaster for a while (maybe a nice loooong while…). What good are all those toys/paints/dress up clothes if they are packed away in a bin in the closet? We only recently moved our toys down to the basement, so I am a pro at stepping around half finished Magnatile houses and Barbie shoes. When the floor was not navigable, that was too much mess, but some amount, to me, gave some room for creativity.

My #1 secret weapon to cleaning up after a messy project is baby wipes. I also use them to clean dirty counters, walls, doors – you name it. They clean everything! Paint, marker – check. Even crayon, which I find harder to remove, come off with a little pressure. My kitchen table is laminate so it wipes up fairly easily but our newly finished craft table is an old wood table that was knocking around our basement when we bought our house. We cleaned it off (there might have been some wipes involved..but paper towels too) and the kids helped me paint it with a bright yellow semi-gloss paint. I am finding my “magic” wipes to do less of a good job on that, but it’s still my favorite way to clean.

Another good way to keep clean is to buy some cheap plastic place mats and designate them as “project mats”. My sister was tired of wiping her table down and picked some up and that has been working great. You could alternately get a vinyl tablecloth to use for projects, but I find that makes the table surface softer which is less ideal for coloring.

And of course smocks! Either spend a few dollars on real ones, or use the time-honored method of Abba’s old shirt backwards. I used a short sleeve one on my younger daughter and the sleeves were the perfect length for her arms.

I would love to hear you tips for keeping clean! Share them on our facebook page or below in the comments.


Decorate a dreidel…with a dreidel

Use a paint-dipped dreidel to create a splatter effect on a paper dreidel.


The kids were digging through a box of old projects and pulled out something my older daughter brought home last year. They dipped dreidels in paint and spun them on a dreidel-shaped piece of paper, creating a great splatter effect. So we tried it out at home.

This is definitely a messy project – get out the smocks and table covers for this one.  I wouldn’t recommend this project for kids much below 5 years old. You need to know how to spin a dreidel and also how not to fling paint everywhere.


I tried using 2 sizes of plastic dreidels. I found that the bigger one worked better and got a more effective splatter than the smaller one.

You could use the same method to decorate any Chanukah shape. Try spinning on a plain sheet of paper. Then cut out latke shapes, and glue them on to a paper cut in the shape of a frying pan. We’d love to see what you come up with!


Dreidel-Decorated Dreidels

Active: 15 minutes

Age: 5-8

Construction paper
plastic dreidel
bowl to hold paint



Get ready for a messy project by putting on smocks. Cover your table surface with newspaper or a plastic disposable tablecloth. Or, be prepared for a decent amount of wiping up.

(This shows a pieces of the mess on my non-covered table).


Cut a out a dreidel shape from a piece of paper. You can print my dreidel template or draw one yourself. Check out “Spinning Paper Dreidel” for detailed directions on how to draw a perfect dreidel.

Pour a small amount of paint into a bowl. Dip your dreidel in.


Spin your paint-dipped dreidel on your paper dreidel! Repeat until the shape is as covered as you like it, or until the kids loses interest.

Did you do this project? Share your pictures on our facebook page!