Easy Process Art: Painting with Pool Noodles

Who doesn’t love a simple and cheap art project?

This pool noodle painting activity was one of our favorites when I worked in a preschool.

This activity is considered process art which allows for more exploration for the child.

What is process art?

Process art is more open-ended art, meaning there is no end expectation for your child. Process art is the opposite of product art.

What is product art?

Product art is when the craft or art project is creating a specified product.

Think of those cute toilet paper animal crafts you see online.

Your child has to follow a specific set of instructions to create the end product.

These are cute but they don’t allow for free expression or creativity.

Process Art for Toddlers

Process art is a lot of fun to do with any age kid but I love watching toddlers create and explore.

This pool noodle art activity is great for toddlers because they can easily hold the noodle and can have fun exploring and creating.

RELATED: Simple Flower Painting Process Art


  • Pool Noodle
  • Knife
  • Paint
  • Paper


First you want to cut your noodle into slices.

You want them to be thin enough that your child can grip them but not too thin that they are hard to grip.

Next you give your child paper and paint and show them to dip the noodle in the paint. Then let them create however they see fit.

Warning, process art can be more messy than product art but that’s okay. The mess is part of the learning.

Your child is learning about textures and colors through their mess. Have them help you clean it up when they are done.

Process art for parents

Process art can be a little tricky to get parents on board with.

As a mom I wasn’t always a fan of messes because it just meant more for me to clean up and it added on to my to do list.

But as a previous educator, I know the importance of the mess.

It’s going to be messy, it’s fine!

Your child might not “do it right” and that’s fine too!

There is no right or wrong way with process art, it’s about exploration and fun, not about the end product. 

Color Matching Activity

You can easily make this into a color matching activity for your toddler.

Get several different colors of noodles and cut them.

Then give your child corresponding paint colors and have them dip the right color noodle in the right color paint and paint that way.

This does mean that the child isn’t really doing process art anymore but it’s a great and fun learning activity and they still get freedom to create how they want. 

Who knew pool noodles could be used for many different things? These cheap pool toys can make for hours of painting fun!

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