I have found that all kids paint and use their craft materials very differently. Take the water color paints for example. Some of the kids will smear all the colors together, make a mess of their trays, and some of them are neat and use one color at a time. All of the kids like to have the neat clean paint trays, so those are the first paint trays to be picked at craft time. Soon I am left with messy paint trays, with cracked, gouged out paint; all colors the same shade of black. I don’t want this creative time for them to be about me issuing reminders not to be messy though I do encourage clean crafting; but I also don’t want the fastidious kids crafting experience to be less enjoyable than it could be simply because the materials are a mess.
top try belongs to a 4 yr old,bottom tray belongs to a 2 yr old
I have solved this problem by assigning each child their own paint tray by writing their names on the back with a permanent marker, to be used only by them. Then, when it is all gone, they get a new one. At craft time, each child knows they have their assigned paint tray and look for it. Now each child has to contend with using a messy (or clean tray) learning to deal with the consequences of their chosen behavior. Then they each also get to experience the thrill of being the first one to use a brand new paint tray when their assigned tray is used up. This seems a fair way for the kids to use the materials I provide for them; they will hopefully learn to be cleaner and take better care of their materials since they alone will have to deal with the results of what they do with the paint trays. So far, this has been working great for me and my kids.