children painting al fresco

The joy of painting outdoors

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There’s been a heatwave in London and it’s been too hot to do Portuguese School indoors.  All we want to do is being outdoors – the girls playing and me watching or working with my ice cold homemade frappe! So of course, we relished the opportunity to play outside. The programme of the day was:

  1. Read a book about being creative
  2. Be inspired by the book and paint
  3. Talk about what they painted


So when Sophia came back from school I informed them of what we were going to do. They were of course pretty pleased. It’s a simple equation:


               Outdoors + Painting = Pure Joy


We put a rug and cushions in the garden and laid down to read “Rua da Alegria”, a children’s book in Portuguese about being creative:


Children's book in portuguese Rua da Alegria

A note for the Portuguese speaking readers: this book is from Pingo Doce but you can get other books about creativity from Wook, and online bookshop that delivers worldwide.  


Then we set up to paint outside. Personally, I prefer that the children paint outdoors anyway because it’s less stressful for me (I cover why I’m not always so keen here). All the clothes come off, and if there’s any mess on the floor it can be washed away by the elements. And it feels so good! The girls LOVE it. You can get all the materials here.


Scola paint used in schools

Scola paint is safe, washable and used in many schools


We spent most of the afternoon speaking the minority language. Starting with the setting up.

We have a colourful box with 12 x 600ml bottles of Scola paint we got from Amazon, which is very good value. I asked them in the minority language what colours they wanted. They responded in the same language, Portuguese. Then they told me what they were doing or I would ask about it. If they didn’t know the words or slipped back into English I would casually continue in Portuguese and try to assist them, repeat the word they said in English, for example, in Portuguese. Of course, soon they were mixing colours, so we also talked about that and soon enough they were painting their hands and prints.


I’m a true believer that learning while making, rather than just watching, and learning whilst having fun is far more effective than old school teaching.


And there was no doubt from their expressions and body language that they were loving it. Actually, I didn’t have to look for cues, Sophia exclaimed “I want to be an artist!” and Amelia “I love it!!” They felt empowered, in control, free, creative.


3 year old being creative painting

Amelia very concentrated on her work


Yes, it takes a little bit of setting up and cleaning but its worth it. It’s not a daily occasion in our house. We’ll certainly be doing more of it this Spring and Summer.



Children painting outdoors


It’s another setting where the children are playing and enjoying themselves, and when we can seize the opportunity to engage in conversation in the minority language. If you feel you need reminders, get my free Inspirational Posters. I’ve been there and I know how it is – I kept forgetting to speak the minority language all the time! It’s taken me a while to get into the swing of things, but it’s starting to work.

I have recently started to notice that Amelia is speaking more of the minority language too, and by her own initiative. Our ‘it’s never late’ and ‘gently, gently’ approach is starting to show results.

At this rate, will they be completely bilingual, i.e. competent as a native across all competencies? Probably not. Do they have a funny accent? Yes they do. But the base and the will is there.


No garden? No problem

If you don’t have a garden, try the balcony or set everything up near a window so they can feel a gentle breeze and the sunshine, perhaps even be inspired by what they see. If mess is an issue, you might even want to try the bathroom. If they can play in a bubble bath, why not paint there as well? It’s easier to clean. Mind you, I’ve not tried that so don’t quote me on that! Just make sure you get washable paint like the Scola paint we use


The materials

Painting materials we used can be found in our Corner Shop. Just click here to buy them now, or add to your basket for later.


Happy painting!


This post includes affiliate links 

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