Finger painting without a huge mess? It's possible. Here's a fun activity that any child will enjoy. You need:
-A pack of Crayola washable kids' paint (the 10 assorted color pack is the best because kids love having more color options)
-Newspaper (not actually necessary, but helps with a little bit of clean up)
-A big poster board, any color
-A tile, linoleum, cement, or wood floor (the kitchen or bathroom can be a good choice for even easier clean up)
-A bored child in "craft" clothes (don't worry too much about the clothes, let him/her make a mess, the paint washes off like a charm)
Lay down the newspaper in the area you want your child to use to finger paint, it's usually best to have at least 1-2 foot coverage on each side of the posterboard.
Lay the poster board on top of the newspaper and choose how you want the child to access the paint.
For younger children, I suggest either pouring a little paint out on the poster board in each color they're interested in, or one color at a time.
For older children, it's sometimes best to place a small bucket of water fr them to rinse their hands in between paint colors--if they make some of the paint containers messy, it doesn't matter, they're easy to clean off.
Consider, there may be paint on other parts of your kitchen, the cabinets, a dishwasher, the oven, but after the kids are exhausted painting and in the bath (because they're definitely going to need one), all you need is a sink-full or bucket of water with a little dish soap and a sponge. In the 10 minutes during or after bath time (depending on the age of the child), the painting area will be clean and you'll have a lovely masterpiece your child will be proud of.
Forget the mess and clean up with fun! If a child spends an hour enjoying this project, think of how many toys they won't be taking out in that time. A bored indoor day is the best one to create a work of art!