Mixing paint inside a ziplock bag or similar type of plastic bag or folder has to be one of the simplest mess free ways of painting. It’s also lots of fun and can make a great effect as the colours mingle together. This is a great activity if you have only a few minutes to spare, as it can be put together in just a couple of minutes and there is very little clean up afterwards.

Mess free colour mix painting. A fun and creative paint sensory bag, you can also make prints and keep the artwork, so a good way to introduce babies to painting or to learn about what colour is made when you mix different colours together

You will need:

  • Paint in at least 2 different colours
  • Large ziplock bag or plastic sleeve folder. In the pictures you see here, we used these plastic punched pockets
  • Duct tape to seal the top of the folder
  • Paper (optional)

If you want to make prints of the painting to keep, then make sure to use paper but if you want to just enjoy the process and have fun mixing the paint then you can skip the paper and you will get slightly less clean up.


First pour your two colours of paint into the bag or folder. Children can do this themselves. If you are using paper then pocket folders may be easier than ziplock bags, and insert 1 piece of A4 paper into your pocket folder first.

Like this (without paper)

pouring paint into a plastic folder

Or this (with)

colour mixing with paint


Once your paint is inside the plastic, tape it up so that kids can squish and push the paint around as much as they want without it coming outside of the bag or folder.

colour mixing with paint, red and yellow make orange


This activity works well for one child at a time, or for collaborative art.

collaborative art for colour mixing with paint

It’s fun to watch the colours moving around and mixing. Kids might like to guess at the start what colour will be produced by the two choices they put in – eg: Red + Yellow = Orange or Blue + Yellow = Green, and see if they are right. If your children learning about colour mixing or focusing on this as a topic then you could set up an experiment with different colour combinations and record the results on a chart.

blue and yellow make green colour mixing with paintIf you are using paper and want to keep the picture, then wait until the paint has dried and then cut it out of the ziplock bag or plastic file folder. You can also open it up while it’s still wet and use the original for printmaking.

Children can place another piece of paper on top of their colour mix painting and carefully press it down, then lift up to reveal a copy of their work.

making a paint print

My boys made quite a few copies

colour mix printsThey noticed though that each one does come out slightly different and unique to each other, since it depends on where you place the paper, how hard you press and other factors like this.

If you start making prints, this is a little more messy than just exploring the colours within the ziplock bag, so you can plan accordingly to do that or not, depending how much time you have available. colour mixing in a ziplock bag or folder sensory mess free painting

Even just mixing the colours in the bag is a lot of fun, and would be a safe way to introduce younger babies to painting if you are worried about them putting their hands into the paint and then into their mouths

More Process Art Painting

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