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Acrylic VS Tempera Paints- The Great Kids Art Debate

I avoided acrylic paint for a long time. I was happy with my liquid tempera and watercolor paints and didn’t see the allure of acrylics. I mean really... who wants to mess around with tubes with 30 kids?

This was my mindset for a long time.

When I learned about acrylic paints that were meant for an elementary classroom, I was excited to give them a try. I order some acrylic paints and experimented with a few projects.

Everything that was said about acrylic paints was true…they were smooth, beautiful and had a lovely finish.

Then I made the BIG mistakes that only experienced art teachers know not to do: I cleaned my plastic muffin-palette filled with acrylic paints in the sink. Two days later, my sink was clogged.

Here’s the thing. Acrylic paints dry to a hard plastic. And when your pour them down your drain, they will stick to your pipes.

And if you don’t clean your brushes well, then the same hard plastic will adhere to the bristles.

So that had me swearing off acrylics for along time.

Turns out that the acrylic I bought was very (very!) similar to regular liquid tempera paint. It even washed away like tempera. It didn’t even dry to a hard plastic finish. I was amazed. And surprised. Ever since that day, we have made acrylics our go-to in studio.

We still use tempera for the occasional project, but there is nothing like the finish you can achieve with the help of acrylic. Want to learn more about kids art? Visit us at

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