There is nothing more irresistible than working on a wax resist art piece! Our students love it at our CEFA Early Learning schools and can spend hours working on one.

It is very inexpensive to make and there are many variations of it so your child will never tire of it. Plus, there is an element of magic and surprise to it, that is sure to fascinate your little one, at the same time teaching them S.T.E.M., writing and art. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Best Ages for This Activity

One to five

How to Make It


Let’s get Started!

  • Arrange all materials neatly on the table to make it inviting for your child.
  • Invite them to make a magical drawing. Explain that at first, they will hardly see what they draw on the paper, but then, as they paint over their work, their drawing will magically appear!
  • Depending on the child, choose the colours to use. If you draw with a white pastel or crayon on a white piece of paper, your child will not see the drawing until it is complete. If you use a different colour (or several), the drawing will be visible at all times but it will still be beautiful and exciting to see that even if they paint over their drawing with the watercolours, the drawing will still appear (meaning it will not be covered by the paint).
  • Take your time with the drawing. They can choose to do an abstract piece or draw whatever they like. They can also choose to use only lines, or they can choose to fill them in (colouring them)
  • Once the drawing is complete, show your child the magic trick: if you paint over the drawing with the watercolour, their drawing will appear! Your child can choose to paint the entire sheet in one colour or use several colours to do so.
  • Voilà, your masterpiece is complete!
  • Look below to try this activity in different ways.
  • Together, find out why the paint did not paint over the pastel lines for an added S.T.E.M. component. Also explore what happens if you draw firmly with the pastel as opposed to softly:

Learning Opportunities

This is a great way to add an element of surprise or magic to a visual arts activity. Drawing will also provide practice in drawing and fine motor skills, both important for learning to write. If your child is very young and just learning about colours, it will teach them S.T.E.M. and math vocabulary (learning about the different colours, about pressure, about the reaction between oil or wax and water, about spatial awareness and other scientific and mathematical concepts). It is also a great activity for your child to express themselves (creativity) as well as to focus and to practice mindfulness, both of which are important life skills.

Make sure you use as much math vocabulary as you can (for example, compare using different pressures while drawing, measure the intensity and thickness of the lines as well as the paint.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Try the activity again using more colours (vary the pastels as well as the watercolours) like the examples below:

  • Try drawing the sea life in the ocean:

  • This winter, try the activity for drawing snowflakes:

  • Try drawing fireworks, then paint a night sky over them with your watercolours:

  • Try drawing concentric circles in the style of Kandinsky:

  • Try using this technique to paint like Van Gogh:

  • Make it into a fun writing activity by being spies and writing secret messages to each-other:

  • Try more elaborate drawings:

  • Try using fine sandpaper instead of paper to draw, to get a really vivid contrast:

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