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DCL

Kids and fingerpainting go together like peanut butter and jelly; it's fun, colorful and messy-all things kids like, right? But the "finger" part of the equation can be cause for trepidation, since the first place little fingers often go after encountering something is right to the mouth.

If you want to give your kids a fun, messy creative outlet, but don't want them sucking on funky pigments or paint whose past you don't know, there's an easy solution: make your own. It's surprisingly quick and safe, and best part is you control everything that goes in; flour or starch is used to thicken the paint, but if your young one has a gluten intolerance, you can just use cornstarch instead. But first, gather the materials you'll need.DIY Fingerpaint

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 cups water

1/4 cup liquid dishwashing soap

Food coloring

1. Mix the sugar and cornstarch (we think this works better than flour, but you can substitute wheat flour; just double it-you'll want one part flour to three parts water) in a saucepan and slowly stir in the water.

2. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture is a clear, smooth gel. Stir in the soap and remove from the heat. When cool enough to handle, scoop it into storage containers (we prefer glass to plastic) and add food coloring until your desired shades are achieved.

3. Paint and enjoy!

When summertime rolls around, cleanup (of the artist, at least) is as easy as a dash through the sprinkler; taking some necessary precautions (like a nice big dropcloth) will make cleaning your young artist's studio a breeze. ::Family Fun

See also: ::Make Your Own Play Dough

Difficulty level: Easy