DIY: Make your own dot dabbers for preschool

I love dot dabbers and as I prepare for the up and coming preschool year, I have been making my list of things I need to restock. I use up dot dabbers pretty quickly so I added them to the list but then I got to wondering if I could possibly make my own dot dabbers.. Hmmm…

I have been saving small water bottles for something and I decided to use them. They are fairly easy to squeeze and they would hold more than enough paint to last me a while…

I started by adding tempera paint to the water bottle. I filled the bottle about 1/4 full of paint….

Next, I added water up to the top of the bottle but not all the way to the top.  I didn’t know how much water per paint I should add but without the water, the paint was too thick. So this seemed to work pretty well. I suppose more paint could be added but I would not do less…

Then I put the lid back on the bottle and shook it really well to mix the paint and water up good. After the paint was ready to go, I was down to the tricky part. I needed to find something that would disperse the paint as evenly as possible but this was no easy task. I tried a cotton ball but it just got sopping wet and fell into the bottle after a few dabs. So I tried out these make-up sponges.

The makeup sponges don’t fit properly inside the bottle so I used tiny rubber bands and banded the sponges around the outside lip of the bottle. Make sure the bands are tightly on so they hold the sponge securely…

Then I flipped the bottles over and gave them a squeeze…

Let me say right now that if you squeeze the bottles hard enough, it is likely the sponge will pop off. I didn’t have a problem but I was being somewhat careful (but not too careful) so I wouldn’t end up with paint all over the table. I suggest that you give a few pointers to the children about squeezing the bottles gently so the paint will come out without popping off the top.

My paint was just a tad watery but it left really beautiful dots anyway. My husband walked by and said “what are you doing besides making lots of dots!”  I took that as a compliment…

I sat and played with my dot dabbers for quite awhile and barely ran through any paint…

Once you are done painting then just take off the sponges and rinse them out for another day. Add the lid to the bottle and put the paint away for another day too…

Now that I got you thinking, perhaps you have another idea for how to make a dot dabber or at the minimum, what else could be used for the top. Now that I have this going – my mind is twirling with other possibilities. I will have to work on those in my spare time!!


  1. says

    I have been trying to figure out how to make these! I tried cotton balls attached to clothespins to do a dot stuff … It wasn’t the same thing though but it was a fun way to paint. I’ll give these a try for sure.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I love cotton balls on clothespins – a different kind of fun experience! Marking that on my to-do list this year:)

  2. says

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  3. Michelle says

    I love this idea. There really isn’t a fabulous set of daubers out there. They say they are refillable, but when your class pounds them like hammers (even after being asked nicely not to), there is NO getting those lids off to refill. The tips also lose their material on the cheap ones, pretty quickly. I am so excited about this that I am going to hit walmart tonight to get some make up applicators to try this. Thank you so much for all of your ideas, I really enjoy your blog!!

  4. says

    Brilliant! I have been thinking of how I could DIY a dot dabber for a long time as I find it quite expensive but I couldn’t think of anything. This is great!

  5. says

    This is such a great idea! It was also something that I am in major need of! I haven’t been able to find the dot a dot type of paints here in South Africa and I have looked everywhere. Importing it from the US would be a bit too costly. I hope this one will work as a great alternative for us. :) Thanks!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I hope it works well for you too! Just play around with the idea and you will find something that works for you!

  6. Lee says

    Oh my goodness…I have a lot of bingo daubers that have “juice” but the top is destroyed. Can’t wait to try this method for a replacement top!!!

  7. says

    Super creative! Love your idea… saw it on Pinterest. I would definitely make them, those dot dabbers are insanely expensive here in Indonesia 😉

    Warm hugs from far-far away.
    Love your blog so much!