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Magic mystery painting

What you need

  • A wax candle (a long candle will be easiest)
  • Paper (ideally this will be a thicker paper suitable for water colours, to avoid the paper becoming too soaked)
  • Water colour paints (or water down some regular paint, to provide a thin, watery texture)
  • Paintbrushes


Your child will be delighted and engaged in finding out what secret messages/symbols or pictures await them! Creativity and imagination can be allowed to run wild. Painting is also great for developing fine motor skills; by holding a paintbrush, your child will be developing and strengthening their thumb and forefinger (pincer) grip.

The experience

You will need to do a little preparation before sharing with your child. Take your candle and draw a picture, symbol or write a message onto the paper. You can be as creative as you like, or choose something that your child may be particularly interested in. 

Then, set up an area at a table or on a wipe clean floor for your child to paint. The water colour paints can be provided along with brushes. Your child can paint the colours onto the paper, which will reveal the drawing underneath. You can make it extra exciting by explaining to your child that they are uncovering a secret message or code. Have fun being creative and imaginative together. Your child may wish to create some of their own secret pictures or messages for you to uncover. You could create a large variety of paintings containing messages or pictures for different family members. Why not send one to a family member you are unable to see, or photograph them and email pictures? Perhaps your child could even create a beautiful message to send to a friend from nursery?