Grab your Free Guide - 3 sTEps to stem success

5 Ways Painting with Kids is Fun!

Did you ever paint when you were in elementary school? I remember having those little pans of watercolors. You know, the ones that come with a brush and you dip the brush in water and then stir into the paint pots. If you didn’t clean your brush between colors you would have mixed pots of paint. Not fun!
So, as an elementary teacher in a regular classroom, I had my kids paint sometimes. I especially loved having them color something and then we’d paint over the crayon. That’s always a pretty cool effect. Well, now I’m a specialist and not the art specialist, so how can we paint?
Then we started building birdfeeders and they needed to be painted! Oh, what fun this turned out to be (might be some sarcasm there…). We did have fun, but we had some disasters along the way! Keep reading!
Painting in STEM class has the same dilemmas as other structures and you just have be prepared for the splatters and re-dos and kids getting paint on their fingers!

Okay, first up is Fun with Spatter Painting

STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and then decorate it. The team for this one decided to paint it a team color and then apply spatter paint. They went outside for that part!
Y’all take a look at that bird feeder. It is spectacular. The black tube on the side is where you pour in the bird seed and it collects in the tallest room of the structure. The team added the second room and we cut holes in it for a bird house attached to the bird feeder. Then they started painting it.
At first, it was just orange and black (our local high school uses those colors) and then they started adding a white stripe.  Look at this:
STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! This team found a very clever way to make the lines on their bird feeder straight! Great problem solving!
They added strips of clear tape to make that line perfect and it turned out extremely well! (I do have painter’s tape, but they didn’t ask!)
Then I turned around just in time to see paint flying as they had decided to make a spatter effect.
Everywhere. On them, the table, the floor, the bird feeder…..
So I sent them outside and they finished this unique little bird feeder!

Next, up is the Life Saver Candy bird feeder.

STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! We called this finished feeder the Life Saver model. The team learned a lot about mixing paint colors!
This one is interesting. It’s card stock glued around a tissue tube and then painted in stripes. It reminds me of Life Saver candy. The problem this group had was making a top for the feeder. They attached some craft sticks to a round piece of cardboard and then found this was hard to paint. Without talking to me first, they decided it would be neat to paint the lid all of the paint colors they had and, maybe, swirling all those colors together would make rainbow paint.
It makes BROWN paint and it pretty much messed up their top. Later, they painted the top a solid red, but you can still the dark brown popping through. We learned a valuable lesson about mixing lots of colors!

Next, you have the painting of water bottles…..

STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! Several teams opted to use plastic water bottles and they make great feeders. They are just more challenging to paint!
This is harder than you would think. It takes many coats of paint to cover a plastic bottle. Primer would have helped, but I didn’t think of that. We still had some cute bird feeders made of water bottles! Take a look:
STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! This team cut holes in the bottom of the bottle and added cardboard slides. When you pour the bird seed into the bottle it slides out onto the bird feeding platform!
STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! This team built a platform of craft sticks and added a dowel for the bird to stand on. They painted the bottle with about 6 coats of paint to get it to cover well!
STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it. This team covered everything with white paint and then used cotton tipped swabs to make the dots. They have a standing platform for the bird that resembles a front porch!

Next, another lesson we learned.

Kids don’t always understand what to do with painting mistakes.
STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! This team layered straws as the roof of their feeder and then decided to paint the straws. Oops, plastic straws are challenging to paint!
This team had the cutest bird feeder. They made the roof out of large milkshake straws. I had several colors of these straws and they made a pattern on the roof that was really nice.
Then they started flipping paint brushes at each other (cause that’s what kids will do sometimes) and some paint flew onto their roof and instead of wiping it off or getting me to help, they decided to just paint over the straws.
We learned that you should probably not do that. The pattern of colors they previously had was all covered and the paint didn’t adhere well. Hard lesson to learn (which I might add all started with kids playing with paint brushes!)

Finally, we have the most amazing group’s bird feeder.

STEM Challenge: Build a bird feeder and decorate it! This team made a box out of craft sticks and then had to decide how to create an inside platform so the layer of bird seed would work. Clever solution to this problem!
This group wanted a box built of craft sticks. They painted each stick and then hot glued them into place and did a really good job with all that. Then they had a dilemma!
Are we going to fill that box with bird seed? If we do and the bird seed gets low in the box, will the birds be able to get to it? So, I stood with them as we discussed options.
I can’t even tell you how hard they worked at this. It was amazing. First, they wanted to build a pulley system that would automatically raise the bottom of the box as the bird seed is eaten. This is fantastic, but we did not have the resources to build that. So, next, they decided to attach a cardboard piece in the bottom of the bird feeder box that could manually be raised by pulling on a cord as the bird seed gets eaten. We tried to make this work, but the weight of the bird seed made it hard to do.
So, take a look at the final solution.
STEM Challenge: The bird feeder box was too large so this team added a smaller box inside it. On top of that box they glued a platform which made a much more shallow area for the bird seed! Very clever!
They placed a smaller box in the bird feeder and then added a cardboard piece as a floor on top of that box. They sealed it all in with a layer of glue and this makes a very shallow bird seed section. The birds can get to the seed and it weighs a lot less!
This is why I love STEM so much! The kids that will persevere with a task like this are just amazing!
And, despite the funny moments, the painting was really fun!


  1. I loved reading about all the different ways they went about solving the problem for the last bird feeder! Sometimes I just love to sit and watch them THINK…it's amazing what they will come up with when you give them a little time!

  2. You always have such great ideas! Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your weekend!

  3. Thanks so much for stopping by! I love writing about things that happen to me, hoping it will make you laugh or give you ideas! Have a great weekend!

  4. Carol, what a great project for your classes! I can just hear all the conversations and see all the activity in your classroom!
    iTeach 2nd

  5. Those birdfeeders are fantastic! What a great project with so much collaboration, and trial and error needed. And paint only makes it better, in spite of the messes 🙂 Hey, stop by and enter the HUE Animation Project. You especially would come up with all sorts of ideas and your kids would have a blast. See you next time, Carol. Kathleen Kidpeople Classroom

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