Arboretum News

Kids Activity: Plant Sidewalk Paint

Make your own paint with cornstarch, water and natural dye.

COVID-19 Update: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open in a limited capacity. Find updates and information here.

By Reba Luiken, Arboretum coordinator of informal interpretation

– Corn Starch
– Water
– Brushes (Try a toothbrush or a sturdy paint brush)
– Natural materials for dying, such as beet juice, turmeric, ground blueberries, crushed spinach, tea, etc.

Try using beet juice from a jar of pickled beets instead of water to make a light pink paint. Photo by Reba Luiken.

1. Mix equal parts water and corn starch. (I started with 1 Tbsp of each.)

2. Add your natural material for coloring.
– If you have a liquid, mix it into your corn starch base. You may wish to add additional corn starch to help the paint dry faster on the sidewalk because you added more liquid.
– If you have a powder (like turmeric), stir it in to dye the mixture.
– If you have a solid like flower petals, blueberries, or spinach, use a spoon to mash up your plant parts to release the color to mix into the mixture. Remember, you paint will look much darker in the jar than on the sidewalk. 

3. Take your paint outside to create!

Photo by Reba Luiken.

– Get creative in the kitchen or garden and try out mashed leaves, flower petals, fruits, or other spices to color your paint.

– Try mixing different materials together to get new colors!

– Compare your colors on different color surfaces like concrete, blacktop, or paper bags.

Find more kids activities to do at home or at the Arboretum!

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