We got this idea from one of my favorite kids' art books, MaryAnn Kohl's First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos:
At this point I have neither a toddler nor a two, but no matter--there are still tons of great ideas in here that my kids enjoy, and this book comes highly recommended by yours truly.
This is a super simple but really unique painting experience. Here's what you need:
**corn syrup (not sure why ours is "light," but we weren't eating it anyway. I don't know if that impacted the paint)
That's it! It's really pretty self-explanatory. Pour some corn syrup into a jar, add some food coloring, and mix. We just made the three primary colors, both for simplicity's sake and to encourage creative color mixing.
I planned to offer this activity repeatedly throughout the week (which I did), so we made quite a bit, but when the girls sat down to paint, I just poured out a smaller amount for them to use (into containers that were a store display for individually-wrapped candies in a previous life):
The final product looks super cool. It's dries thick, shiny, and smooth:
The corn syrup is a lot of fun to work with, and it presents a manageable challenge to little ones--it's very thick and becomes even thicker as it starts to dry while you're painting, so it's great for exercising those hand muscles.
Since we worked with this all week, we came up with some fun variations. The corn syrup looks really cool painted onto an image drawn with just a black outline (in this case a mandala Ninna made with the Mandala Designer my parents gave the girls for Christmas.) And because we we have to, always, we tried adding glitter as well--also very cool looking.