Powder Paint Fight

Today we have a guest post from Becca at Ela Area Public Library. Today she’s telling us about her awesome Powder Paint Fight.

A few years ago, it seemed like everyone was participating in 5K Color Runs and posting the photos on all aspects of social media. The runs looked like so much fun and I knew that I could use the concept at the Library but I also realized that a 5K wasn’t an option. I decided that the easiest and most viable option would be a version of tag using the same powder paint used in the runs.

We had a large open grass-covered space in front of the Library but before we did anything else, we made sure that we had permission of both the director and the village. We wanted to make sure that all of our bases were covered and we had complete support of the program.

The paint was purchased online in five pound bags from a company that creates powder paint specifically for Color Runs. It is a mix of pigment and corn starch. Make sure you aren’t just purchasing powdered paint (that you would mix with water to make paint) as it will be far more difficult to get out of clothes and off skin. Buy as much powder as your budget will allow – you will go through it all with no problem. It isn’t inexpensive but it isn’t any more than bringing in an outside performer or presenter.

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Before the program began, we called the patrons and reminded them that there was going to be airborne color and they should consider bringing goggles, sunglasses or protective eyewear. We also recommended putting leave-in conditioner in their hair before the program (particularly for those with light/dyeable hair) to help rinse the color out after the program or wear a scarf, hat or headband to cover their head. Wearing sunscreen would both protect them from the sun and provide a barrier between the skin and the color. Again, this made it easier for the color to come off at the end of the program. We had a couple of stations to rinse off at the end of the program but if they were going to be picked up, we recommended a towel on the seats of the car because there would still be powder on their clothes and in their hair. We asked that they wear white shirts so that the color would be easily visible when they were hit. We also recommended that they bring a water bottle (we had large jugs of water that we provided for refills.)


When the teens arrived, the first thing we did was go over and then reiterate the rules. We wanted to make sure that everyone had fun and stayed safe. Our rules were simple but effective.


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Our Rules:

1)  DO NOT THROW POWDER IN PEOPLE’S FACES – if you are seen throwing powder in  people’s faces you will be asked to sit out for the rest of the game. (We were very strict about this rule and did not take it lightly. It was a matter of safety for everyone. While we hated eliminating people, we needed this program to be safe.)

2) Stay on the lawn – we are trying really hard not to get powder on the sidewalk or buildings or patio or anywhere it might not wash off quickly and easily.  This goes for when the program is over too.  Please “shake off” on the lawn.

3)  Do not trample flowers/garden. Be mindful of the game’s boundaries. (We used trees on the lawn and the sidewalk at the top and the bottom of the grass to mark off the “playable” space.)

4)  If you need a break – go up to the patio – this is the “safe” zone. (This was a space behind a garden so teens were clearly out of the game and could get a drink or just take a moment if they needed it.)


We have tried a couple versions of the powder paint fight. The first was progressive tag. The teens counted off and we assigned 5 of them to start as “it.” Each person who was “it” was then assigned a color and each took two handfuls of that color. Once both the teens and their colors were assigned, a staff member would yell “GO” and those with the color could throw it at anyone who is not “it.” For the first round, the people with the color can only hit those who do not have color in their hands or on their person. If a teen is hit with powder, they were allowed to go and grab two handfuls of the color they had been hit with and throw them at two people who do not have color on them.  This went on until there is so many people with color in their hands that everyone can throw at everyone. Then, we continued until the powder ran out.


The other version of tag we played was Freeze Tag. Again, we counted off and assigned colors. If you were hit with powder, you have to freeze until you were hit by someone else with a different color, then you were allowed to move again.  Once the teen was frozen and unfrozen, they were allowed to go and get powder to throw at someone else.  The teens had to have been frozen and unfrozen to go and get more color.  We played until the powder ran out.


Just about any form of tag will work – you just replace tagging with throwing color. Have fun, try something new and get your teens outside. Every year, I have teens asking me if we are going to have the program again as they are playing and every year we have a full game (50 teens plus staff) with a full waiting list. Also, the teens really like when staff participates in the event. So, put on your white shirt and running shoes and get in the game!

Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask!
Becca Boland
Teen Librarian/Assistant Head of Popular Materials
Ela Area Public Library
[email protected]

A big thank you to Pioneer Press and The Hinsdalean for use of photos from the program.



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