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Painting with Wheels: Easy Action Art Activity for Kids

by Rachel Withers
July 26, 2021

Painting with wheels is a favorite action art activity here at The Artful Parent. It’s great for toddlers (and big kids too!) to explore painting in a new way. So get some paint and watch as a car, digger, train (you name it!) creates colorful tracks.

A yellow car on cardboard with tracks from painting with wheels

Updated May 2021

Painting with wheels is a classic action art activity for kids of all ages. Here at The Artful Parent,  Jean started blogging about it years back with her toddler art groups and it’s still going strong as we bring you a fully updated version for the blog today.

As kids roll a vehicle in paint and then again onto paper/cardboard to print the tracks, they gaining a valuable experience through this experimentation.

Sadie painting with truck

Painting with a car (instead of a brush) begins to prompt the question of “what else can we paint with?”

This encourages an environment for the child to think creatively about their art and by extension their world.

A red car on a painted wooden ramp

If you haven’t tried this yet, it’s the perfect project for young toddlers who may be especially interested in trains, trucks, cars, and the like!

The setup is easy and did I mention, it’s fun – even for adults like me!

painting with wheels pinterest graphic

Painting with Wheels



  1. Collect wheeled vehicles

    First, gather anything with wheels (paint rollers work great too!)

  2. Prepare the rolling surface

    This project can be set up inside or outside! At our recent toddler art group I laid out two painted drop cloths and placed cardboard on top.

    I got a little carried away and created wood ramps, cardboard parking garages and tunnels with items from our recycling bin.

    Toddler Art Class with Process Art and Music

    If you decide to work indoors, you may wish to tape kraft or white butcher paper to a kid-sized table as Jean did with her toddler art group. Brayers or foam painting rollers are also fun instruments for painting on paper!

    Kids roll cars in paint to create painted tracks on a roll of paper

    The kids then moved to a 20 foot runway with lots of space to make tracks.

    Girl making tracks with a car and paint on a roll of paper

  3. Start painting with wheels!

    Gather paper plates, cake pans, trays, pizza pans and baking sheets to add paint onto. Remember to include a few larger paint trays to accommodate any bigger diggers or trucks that kids always seem to enjoy.

    I squirted paint all over the trays and continued to refresh them as needed.

  4. Time to roll!

    Now comes the fun part, when it’s time to set the kids loose! Painting with wheels is an easy art activity to try with your own child, with a few friends, or at an art group.

    And it works well for a wide age range making it a fun art activity to try with siblings as well.

As you can see, there are many possibilities!

Painting with wheels cardboard and drop cloth set up

There’s something rather mesmerizing and unpredictable as you watch the magic happen. I encourage you to give it a try!

And here’s a fun extension of this project–add shaving cream marbling to the mix like Colors Are Magic did with their version of car painting.

painting with wheels

More Action Art Ideas for Kids

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