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A magic writing cloth is a great tool for paint-less painting for your toddler.
How does painting with black paint sound…. indoors… with a toddler?
If this scenario makes you crinkle your nose and cringe a little, I have the answer for you.
It’s a magic writing cloth.
Magic Writing Cloth
Toddlers love painting for a bunch of reasons.
First, it feels cool to touch the paint and hear the brush against the paper.
They are instinctly curious and painting is a way for them to explore colours, textures and cause and effect.
They can get creative and let their imaginations run wild while making something fun.
And let’s not forget the attention they get from adults who love their artwork. It’s a great way for them to feel good about themselves and what they’ve made.
While some protection for the surroundings and some boundaries can be put into play to avoid mess, when it comes to mixing toddlers and paint, it’s a given that things can get messy.
In saying that… we found a way to have a blast releasing that expressive creativity with minimal mess and minimal clean up.
The answer to virtually mess free painting is a magic writing cloth, also known as Chinese calligraphy cloth.
What is a magic writing cloth?
A magic writing cloth is a type of reusable cloth that is specifically designed for practicing Chinese calligraphy.
It is made of a special material that allows you to write on it using water instead of ink. The marks left by the water will appear black on the cloth.
The water evaporates quickly, allowing you to use the cloth again and again.
The magic writing cloth is a great tool for beginners who are just learning Chinese calligraphy…. and for painting with toddlers!
It allows them to enjoy exploring different strokes, more water on the brush, less water on the brush, splatters and dots without worrying about wasting paper or paint.
Using magic writing cloth is a more environmentally friendly option than traditional paper and paint, as it can be used multiple times.
The highlight for me is that the water shows up as black. The scariest of all paint colours (or shades as my daughter would correct me) to hand to any toddler.
The magic writing cloth makes it safe for parents as much as it is fun for their kids!
What you need to use a magic writing cloth?
- Magic writing cloth
- Bowl of water
- Painting tools
- Waterproof play mat (optional but so handy for even less mess)
These mats are inexpensive and reusable. We picked ours up for around $13 with free shipping (love me some free shipping!)
There are a few different types available.
Some have grids, some have rods that make them easier to roll up.
I chose to get the plain cloth, without the grids but with the rods. The grids are used more so for the cloths traditional use, Chinese calligraphy. The rods looked nice and since using the cloth with the rods, they are useful to stabilise the cloth and for ease of storing the cloth.
When it comes to any play with water in the house, I always have the area protected with our trusty Rudie Nudie Waterproof Play Mat.
This mat is super thirsty on top and holds so much liquid. The bottom layer of the mat is waterproof. This is handy for loads of reasons. From stopping moisture from coming through during picnics, catching drool and spit sip during tummy time and stopping mess from getting on the floor during water and mess play!
Liquids seep below the soft top layer straight away, no pooling. When the play is done, either hang up to dry or give it a shake down, rinse and then throw it in the washing machine.
We used three different paint brushes when we last used our magic writing cloth. I had planned on creating some incidental learning happening around the mathematical concepts of thick and thin.
Just quietly, it worked a treat! Here is how it all unfolded.
How to use a magic writing cloth
- Lay out the play mat under your play area
- Roll out the writing cloth
- Place the bowl of water and painting tools opposite of your child’s dominant hand
- Let their creative juices and self expression flow
We used the mat on our Flisat table as our play space. The weight of the rods hanging on either side of the table kept the cloth flat.
I positioned the water bowl and three brushes to the left of the table.
This encourages the development of an important motor skill called crossing the midline.
That is, moving a body from one side, across the centre of the body to the opposite.
Each time little one reaches over to dip their brush into the water, they are helping refine this skill that will allow them to complete tasks such as reading, writing and tying their shoes.
As soon as the water touches the cloth, the cloth turns black.
Now, the water will pool a little if the brush is too wet.
This can be the basis of a few little experiments for you toddler.
How much water is enough to mark the cloth without it pooling?
Whats the best way of removing the excess water?
This is just one example of the incidental learning that can happen using the magic writing cloth. Love it!
After some freelancing I started to draw (pun intended) his attention to the differences between the marks left by his different sizes brushes. Thick and thin concepts were really easy to see with the bold dark lines made on the mat.
We then experimented with different splatter patterns. That is, how they can be made and the differences that result with the different patterns. Holding the brush in one hand and tapping with the second hand was a favourite!
How to clean the writing cloth
Once your little artist has finished their stamping, drawing and experimenting, simply lay the cloth out to dry.
Whether you hang it rip of lay it out flat, it will dry with so more maintenance required.
Ensure that the cloth has dried completely before rolling it up to store.
I am so glad to have stumbled across this magic writing cloth. Already, it has saved so much paper and all three kids love using it. Painting indoors is definitely a calmer experience because of it! Winner for little one and Mum!