By Jessica Simmons, author of the blog Very Pinteresting

With the heat wave this month, I’d love nothing more than to hibernate inside and enjoy the air conditioning, but my kids tend to balk at that suggestion. Now that my oldest son has left for sleep away camp, His Majesty– my two year old– is without his favorite playmate, and I’ve had to come up with new ways to entertain him that allow him to get some energy out, and take up some of our free time.

I figured that if nothing else, this heatwave is a great opportunity to combine two of his favorite activities: painting and playing in his splash pool. It’s a two fold benefit: he can paint outside, get as messy as he wants, and then I can strip him down to his diaper or his swim trunks and let him wash off– and cool off– in the water. After that, he comes in the house paint free, and exhausted and ready for his nap. My dad always told me that if you want kids to sleep well, “Put them in the water”, and I concur. Naps have been good with this little routine.

Now, if you’re like me, and the idea of breaking out paint makes you a little nervous, rest assured that the paint we used is made with regular old kitchen ingredients, and is also washable, so you can relax and let your kids go to town, even if you decide to bring the crafting indoors for the day.

The first activity that we did was painted with sidewalk paint, which I learned about from Domestic Charm. It’s easy to make the paint, just mix cornstarch and water in equal parts, then add your food coloring. This would be a fun activity for kids of any age, not just toddlers, to brighten up the sidewalk with some of their designs. We used several different sized paint brushes, and foam brushes seemed to work especially well. A quick soak with the hose, or a summer rain storm will wash your cement clean.

Yeah, he’s wearing a super hero mask on the top of his head. He’s my little fashion plate. Oh, and I save empty yogurt cups, which is what you can see that I poured the paint into. Yogurt cups are perfect for planting seedlings, craft projects, and building towers (one of His Majesty’s favorite rainy day activities, believe it or not).

The next activity we did expanded on the first recipe, an idea that I learned about from Play at Home Moms. I used kitchen funnels to fill balloons (another one of my little guy’s favorite things) with small amounts of the sidewalk paint. Then I let His Majesty have some fun trying to pop the balloons, leaving paint puddles in their wake.

Our last painting activity was with homemade finger paint, using a recipe that I found at Rookie Cookie. I rolled out butcher paper on the patio (Which you can find pretty much anywhere; I got mine at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon), and I also soaked pieces of cut kitchen sponges in the paint. This helped prevent him from getting big globs of paint on his hands while he painted (He doesn’t like having goopy hands), and also gave him a different painting “tool” to play with. He liked sponge painting on the paper as much as he liked finger painting. When he was done, we left his art work out to dry on he clothes line while he rinsed all of the mess away in the water.

All of these paints rinsed out of his– and my– clothing in a regular wash cycle. I didn’t even pretreat it.

Crafting is a great way to work on fine motor skills (manipulating paintbrushes, tracing shapes or letters), and you can use it to work on colors as well. It also introduces kids to different textures: different paints feel differently, and make different patterns when they dry. For older kids, you can let them measure out the ingredients to make the paint, or mix food coloring to make their own custom hues. And with washable homemade paints, it’s good clean fun for everyone: Mom included!