Today I tested out Elmer's Squeeze 'n Brush paintbrushes with my class of three-year-olds. These brushes have thick handles that hold paint. To use them, you simply squeeze gently to squirt out a little paint, and then spread it with the brush. I was a little worried at first that the kids wouldn't be able to control the paint flow or would squeeze out all the paint in one go. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
When you first open the package, you have to twist off the brush heads to remove the seals. I read some reviews on Amazon about people having trouble getting the brush part off, or having it fall off during use. I suspect these people failed to read the very obvious label on each brush. Contrary to most twist-tops, the brush part has to be twisted clockwise to remove it. In my opinion these brushes are very durable and well-made, and unlikely to break even with heavy use. Even after being used by 15 three-year-olds, a simple rinsing had them looking like new.
You'll notice that the hole through which the paint flows is quite small, but it's not so small that getting the paint out is difficult. The white brushes are fairly stiff and flat-bottomed. They wouldn't be appropriate for detail work, but they're perfect for young children just experimenting with the medium. (I believe there is a fine-tipped version available.) They'd be particularly good for easel painting because there's not a great risk of spilled paint or drips.
I found that my kids really enjoyed using these brushes. The amount of pressure needed to get the paint out is neither too much nor too little. None of the kids got frustrated; a brief demonstration was all they needed to understand how to use them. The washable paint was bright and not too drippy, and there was more than enough for all fifteen of the kids to paint. Clean-up was very easy - I just rinsed them under running water. The bristles are a plastic type of material that rinses faster than regular "hair" or synthetic bristles. Each brush comes with a clear screw-on cap to keep the paint from drying out.
One thing I really liked about these was the color mixing factor. Whenever I put out several colors of paint for the kids to use, by time the last kids get to paint the colors are mixed and muddy. With these brushes you can mix the colors (and they got some gorgeous results, by the way), but if you want to go back to one color you can just squeeze out more paint. If you want to get a really pure color after mixing, you'd have to rinse the brush, but that's not really a factor with most young children. The important thing here is that you won't end up with five paint cups of muddy gray.
The best thing about these brushes: they're refillable with any tempera paint. I'm going to buy at least two more sets and refill them with the paint my school buys. Although I won't use these exclusively - the kids need exposure to other painting methods - I predict we'll be using these brushes for most painting projects this year.
The brushes come in packs of three, five, nine, or twelve - in basic, neon, and glitter colors. They average out to less than $1 each. I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but Amazon has a better variety.