Water Balloon Painting: Outdoor Summer Art Activity

This outdoor summer art activity is brought to you by Jean of The Artful Parent.

this post contains affiliate links - thanks for supporting usKids love water balloons.

Surely we can just state this as a fact, right? Up there with we all need plenty of hugs, sleep and chocolate?

My two girls and their friends go through crazy amounts of water balloons during the warm weather months. Half of the fun seems to be filling them at the outdoor spigot. (If they waited for me to fill the water balloons, I’m afraid they wouldn’t be using them nearly as often as they’d like.

Once the balloons are filled, they use them for everything from the expected (throwing) to the unexpected (as babies, as a pinata, in the sandbox, on the light table, and now as a method of painting.

Giant Abstract Art: Gross Motor Painting for Kids *water balloon painting in pool. adding this to my summer bucket list.

Painting with Water Balloons

This idea of painting with water balloons was inspired by my children’s love of water balloons but it’s an idea that I came up with and suggested.

My four-year-old and two of her preschool friends were on board as soon as I mentioned the words WATER BALLOONS and SWIMMING POOL. (This activity is best done with three or more people, but two will work in a pinch.) I asked them to get dressed in swimming suits first with the idea that we’d follow the art activity with water play for clean up and summer fun.


  • Water balloons, filled with water, but not so full that they are about to burst*
  • Kiddie pool (the hard plastic kind; see the end of the post for alternate ideas if you don’t have one)
  • Large piece of paper (such as butcher paper) or cardboard
  • Tempera paint
  • Masking tape


1. Tape the paper down to the bottom of the swimming pool.

Painting with Water Balloons: Prep the pool for FUN

2. Fill small dishes 1/3-1/2 full with paint.

Painting with Water Balloons: Prep the paint and balloons for FUN

3. Dip water balloons in paint part or all the way and set on the paper-covered bottom of the pool.

Painting with Water Balloons: Prep the paint and balloons for FUN

4. Next, the kids take position around the pool, lift it up, and tilt the pool back and forth and around to make the paint-covered water balloons roll around and make designs on the paper.

Giant Abstract Art: Gross Motor Painting *water balloon painting. adding this to my summer bucket list.

5. When the painting is deemed complete, set the pool down, remove the water balloons, and then remove the painting to a safe place to let dry.

Giant Abstract Art: Gross Motor Painting *water balloon painting in pool. adding this to my summer bucket list.

6. Fill the pool with water to wash it, the kids, and the water balloons!

Giant Abstract Art: Gross Motor Painting *water balloon painting in pool. adding this to my summer bucket list.


If you or your neighbors don’t have a hard plastic kiddie pool, then consider these options:

  1. Tape a long sheet of paper to a slide and roll paint-covered water balloons down it. Prepare for a burst balloon at the end or place a bucket at the bottom to catch them.
  2. Do this activity on a smaller scale with a large baking sheet with sides or a plastic storage container that you have around the house.
  3. Tape or weigh down a large sheet of paper to the ground (patio, garage floor, etc) then roll the paint covered water balloons across the paper from different sides. Or, if you’re brave, consider filling water balloons with paint then throwing them at the paper.


You can also make art by rolling other paint covered objects around on paper. Consider these variations:

  1. Marble painting
  2. Rolling paint-covered balls in the swimming pool
  3. Shake art in a canister


Find ongoing art inspiration and more here on Pinterest…

*Note: We all know the tendency of water balloons to break. It didn’t happen when we did this art activity but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen during the art process. Don’t let this derail you, just accept it as part of the activity and observe how the burst balloon waters down the paint design in places.



Jean Van’t Hul is the author of the book The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity as well as the chief kids art enabler at The Artful Parent. Check out her directory of Kids Arts and Crafts Activities for more than 500 fun, artful ideas for children.

Find Jean online here:
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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