Corn Starch Paint – Homemade Edible Paint!
This corn starch paint is a lovely homemade edible paint for babies and toddlers! We sometimes use store-bought finger paints as well, but if we’re enjoying painting for fun, I much prefer using corn starch paint as it has a lovely texture and is also taste-safe.
This paint works well for finger painting on high chair trays, other trays or tuff spots. You can also use it on paper, but like a lot of other finger paints, it won’t look great after it dries. My children love the smooth, creamy texture and so it’s a great sensory experience, especially for finger painting.
I had many failed attempts at making this paint before I got the technique just right! I found that you have to work precisely, or the result will be unpleasantly chunky! If you cook this carefully, you will end up with some lovely, smooth paint that is perfect for finger painting. Even my son, who is a bit funny about getting stuff on his hands, likes to use this paint for finger painting.
I found that this is particularly good for my youngest as he is desperate to paint with his older brother but still likes to put things in his mouth. This way, he can have fun painting, and I don’t have to worry about him eating it!
I also prefer this to some of the other edible paints such as the yoghurt based one, as it doesn’t have a funky smell, nor does it spoil quickly. This paint can be stored in containers in the fridge, and it will be good for up to 2 weeks. If you leave it out, it will spoil after a few days, especially if it is hot.
What you need for homemade edible corn starch paint
- 2 cups of corn starch (corn flour)
- 1 cold water
- 2-3 cups Boiling Water (approximately). Add 1 cup at a time until the consistency is similar to acrylic paint.
- 1 tablespoon glycerine (optional but highly recommended)
- Liquid food colouring or gel food colouring (for more vibrant colours)
To make creamy corn starch paint, you will need to heat the corn starch and water either in a pan on the stove, or you can microwave it in a bowl (although you will need to stop and stir it often).
In a pan, combine 1 cup cold water with 2 cups of corn starch and stir them together.
Slowly pour in 2 cups of boiling water stirring well and also adding 1 tablespoon of glycerine to help prevent clumping.
Turn the stove on very low heat while continuously stirring. Cornflour can become overcooked and chunky very quickly, so ensure the temperature is low or turn the heat on and off.
After many failed attempts at making this, I’ve found that the mixture stays smooth and free of chunks when using glycerine and very low heat. While stirring it, it is best to turn off the heat when a thick paste starts to build up on the spatula as you stir along the bottom of the pan. Next, mix it some more, so it is a very smooth consistency again before turning the heat back on. Do this several times until it is a thick, acrylic-like consistency.
Once your paint base is a thick and creamy consistency, take it out of the pan and place it in separate containers. Then you can add the food colouring.
*Be careful not to over-cook it as it will eventually become hard and clear – with a few other ingredients corn starch turns into a bioplastic! I will have a post coming soon on some different methods for making bioplastics.*
Questions to ask
- How does it feel?
- What colours can you make? What happens when you mix these two colours? And these?
- What can you make with the paint?
What they get from corn starch paint
Corn starch paint is a lovely way for babies and toddlers to begin to make marks. It allows them to create and paint and is edible, so it doesn’t matter if babies put it in their mouths. They can also combine different colours to see how they change when they are mixed together.
Research demonstrates that this type of play has many short term and long term benefits, including language development and memory. Sensory rich experiences help to make connections in the brain that assist children’s learning (Papatheodorou & Moyles, 2012, Gascoyne, 2012, and Gascoyne, 2016). Research has found that there are connections between the ability to recall memories and early sensory experiences (Crawley and Eacott, 2006). The majority of adults’ most vivid memories from childhood often involved outdoor play which was sensory-rich (Papatheodorou, 2010).
Take it further – Homemade Edible Paint
You may want to see my post on Edible Mark Making Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers for some other ideas on mark-making for little ones.
It is very useful for young children to have various types of sensory play and opportunities for mark making. You may want to see my posts Shaving Foam Sensory Play Ideas and 8 Cornflour Messy Play Activities.
Crawley, R. and Eacott, M. (2006) Memories of Early Childhood: Qualities of the Experiences of Recollection. Memory and Cognition, 3(2): 287-94.
Papatheodorou, T. (2010) Sensory Play. Report submitted to Play to Z. Chelmsford: Anglia Ruskin University.
Papatheodorou, T. & Moyles, J. (2012) Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Early Childhood. Sage.
Gascoyne, S. (2012). Treasure Baskets and Beyond: Realizing the Potential of Sensory-Rich Play.
McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
Gascoyne, S. (2016). Sensory Play: Play in the EYFS. Andrews UK Limited.