Nothing is more rewarding than engaging in creative play time with your little darling. And it’s never to early to inspire creativity in your baby!
Here are five easy, toddler-friendly art activities I love:
1. Crayons. Simple and pretty obvious, crayons are super affordable, mess-free and there’s little cleanup afterwards. I started my son with crayons early— at around six months old. The first few times he made very faint lines, and he didn’t keep his attention on the process much, but that’s totally normal.
Crayola makes jumbo crayons and egg-shaped crayons which are perfect for little hands learning to grasp. I started with blank pieces of paper so that he could focus more clearly on the marks he was making. After a while I gave him a Curious George coloring book. If you can find a coloring book with something your child is interested in, they’ll likely be more excited to color the pictures.
2. Washable Markers. One day, my little one found my stash of art supplies and discovered my beloved Prismacolor markers. I helped him try out coloring with markers for the first time ever (which was quite exciting for both of us), but I knew that non-toxic, washable markers are what he really needed.
There are coloring books that have one big picture on each page (aimed towards little ones just starting out.) The big bold pictures inspried my one and half year old to color inside the lines! Coloring inside the lines is something he never seems concerned with in normal coloring books that have words and detailed pictures. I’ll never forget the time I asked, “What color would you like to make the big balloon?” He said, “blue,” so I handed him blue marker… He colored perfectly and impressively right inside the lines of the balloon! It “blue” my mind! haha.
My little guy much prefers markers because of how vibrant the colors are, and it’s much easier to fully color in shapes because the marker has such a broad tip. For a while I held the cap next to him so that when he’s finished with that color and wants a new one, he knows to place the marker into the cap. Eventually he started taking the cap and attempting to put it on the marker himself. He hasn’t figured out how to click the cap into place yet, but he tries! So the marker activity is certainly great for developing better hand-eye coordination, too.
3. Model Magic Clay. What is it? Well, it’s a super fun, non-toxic modeling material that is easily manipulated and joined to make any shape you can imagine. My favorite thing to make is a cat. Anyways! Lightweight and clean, this awesome compound is non-crumbling (unlike Play-Doh), AND it doesn’t cling to skin or room surfaces. There are many colors available, but it is easily paintable after it has dried for 24 hours. I highly recommend this specific clay over Play-Doh because honestly… Play-Doh is way too messy. Save the Play-Doh for later when they can use it as intended; Model Magic Clay is perfect for toddlers.
My son enjoys imprinting different things into the clay; his cars, train track pieces, even the t.v. remote. He also enjoys using the Model Magic Shape Tools to make shapes in the clay. I definitely say if you’re going to get the clay, splurge a couple dollars on the shape tools too!
4. Shaving Cream (or Whipped Cream) Toddlers love feeling new textures, and this activity is perfect for their texture-loving, explorative personalities. Sit your little one in their high chair or at a little table they can sit at comfortably, cover the surface with cream, and let them use their hands to make designs in the creamy goodness. If you want to add to the texture while still keeping the edible factor in play, you can add powdered Jello to not only add a bit of texture, but also to make the cream more potent. They’ll engage so many senses in this activity!
If you aren’t concerned about the cream being edible, try shaving cream combined with a few drops of food coloring (and maybe add some glitter at some point in the process to change the texture experience!) Also, quick tip, if you add an equal amount of glue to some shaving cream, and then add food coloring, you can create your very own puffy paint!
My toddler’s absolute favorite way to express his blossoming creative spirit is through painting. He takes after his mama in that way. I definitely suggest going to Michaels for your little one’s art supplies. They tend to have awesome prices that when combined with coupons makes shopping for art supplies fun and affordable.
I usually go with the Creatology brand, but just recently I’ve realized Crayola washable paints are way easier to clean up. I got a pack of 18 colors of washable, non-toxic paint, kids paintbrushes with grippers, and a pad of paint paper (a thick paper that can handle several paint layers), all for about $15!! Make sure you have a smock (or little apron) and some kind of ground cover to avoid potential accidents.
When I first began painting with my son, I stripped him down to his diaper and would allow him get all messy, then after painting time was done he got to take a long play bath. Now, once in a while we do messy painting with a play bath afterwards, but I usually just put a smock on him. It’s much easier that way!
Things to try with your toddler during painting time:
⁃ Make Handprints & Footprints
⁃ Paint shapes for them and have them paint inside the shapes
⁃ After there are a few layers of wet paint on the paper, have your little one dip their paintbrush into water, then glide the brush over the paint. This creates a cool dripping effect as the water and paint run down the page.
⁃ Hold a stencil on the page and let your toddler paint on top of it. Remove the stencil, (maybe insert a magic word like “voila!”) and with enthusiasm, describe the shape or design that your little one created with the stencil. I find this is extremely exciting for 3 year olds, but not quite as much with the younger ones.
Tip: Did you know you can paint 100% mess free by using this big ziplock bags.
All you do is…
1.Squirt a couple colors into the bag (preferable two that when they mix will make a pretty color).
2.Seal the bag.
3.Using blue painters tape, tape it to a table or to the high chair tray.
4.Let your little one use their fingers to move the paint around!
Tip: Be sure to praise and congratulate your little artist on their artworks!