Hi friends! I am so excited to announce a new series for the month of April…Toddler Art Tuesdays! Even more exciting, I talked my newest blogging buddy, Lindsay from You are the Roots, into doing it with me! Lindsay has a lovely blog- she writes beautifully and honestly about the joys and struggles of being a first-time mommy and shares lots of great tot school activities that she does with her adorable little boy, Ethan. Like my kiddos, Ethan has recently begun to express a great deal of interest in art activities, so I thought Lindsay would be a great person to team up with to showcase art activities designed specifically for toddlers.
What to Expect from Toddler Art Tuesdays
Lindsay has been so fun to work with on this series. When we first started brainstorming, we were shooting idea-filled emails back and forth like crazy…it was really quite funny how giddy we both were! We had enough ideas for an entire year’s worth of posts. What we ultimately decided was pretty simple- we came up with a list of four broad categories or art prompts that can be interpreted in lots of different ways. Every Tuesday for the rest of April, we will pick one of the themes and each post our own “spin” on it in the form of an activity we did with our toddlers. We thought this would be a fun way to demonstrate that there really is no right or wrong way to do art, and also bring double the ideas and inspiration to our readers. Some of our weekly prompts are based on a medium, like “art with play dough,” while others are more of a category, like “hanging art.” At the end of each week’s post, we’ll reveal the theme for the coming week, but beyond that, our lips are sealed! You’ll just have to come back each Tuesday this month to see what we’re cooking up next!
Toddler Art Tips
Today we are each sharing a little about what we’ve learned about doing art with toddlers through our own experiences with our children. Here are my top tips to make early art activities fun for toddlers and parents:
Focus on the process. Toddlers live “in the now;” they respond best to activities that focus more on the process of creating art rather than a perfect finished product. Some of the art activities we do, such as finger painting on a table covered in butcher paper, don’t even result in a finished product to hang on the fridge- and that’s ok!
Keep it simple. Toddlers don’t appreciate projects with a jillion complicated steps and materials- they remain engaged for longer with just a few well-chosen “ingredients” and the freedom to experiment with them however they please. Save the cute multi-step projects from Pinterest for older children or Mommy art time!
Go big! My toddlers really enjoy art activities that involve large motor movements- Jamie from Hands on: as we grow refers to this as “big art” and has lots of ideas for involving toddlers’ whole bodies in the process. Whenever I can I use a super-sized canvas for art projects such as this foil painting activity.
Have realistic expectations. 99% of enjoying art with toddlers is keeping parental expectations in check. Toddlers are notoriously fickle…they may refuse to participate in the activity you have carefully planned or decide to use the materials in an entirely different way. One day’s favorite art material may become “old news” the next day, or vice versa. Some days my daughter loves to paint, and other days she refuses to touch it because it’s “yucky.” Go with the flow and don’t take it personally if things don’t go how you envisioned- your child is learning to exercise free will, express his/her preferences, and understand his/her emotions all at once- it’s a lot for one tiny person to handle!
Preparation is key. Speaking of expectations, one thing you can count on when combining art and toddlers is a big fat mess. The mess factor alone is intimidating enough to turn some parents off, but it doesn’t have to be! Think through your activity ahead of time in order to prepare for the inevitable spills and splatters. Is this an activity that is better suited for the outdoors? If you are going to be working inside, can you cover your work surface and floors? Cheap vinyl and plastic tablecloths are a staple in our house- they can be taped to the floor, table, or even walls with painter’s tape to protect surfaces from mess. We keep a stack of old sheets and towels ready for cleanup as well. You will notice in many of my photos that my children are either wearing old clothes or stripped down to their diapers for activities so I don’t have to worry about stains. Making a mess is a big part of art- you also have to accept that you can’t completely “sterilize” activities for your children- if you take the mess away, you take away a big part of the experience!
Looking for inspiration?
There are tons of great sources for inspiration for toddler art projects on the internet. Here are a few of my favorite art websites:
Favorite Art Supplies
Although the twins and I have just begun our journey into the world of art, I do have a few favorite art supplies that are staples in our creative stash. Since my son has an affinity for rubbing paint all over his body, I like Crayola’s washable finger paint because it is non-toxic and easily washes away. Contact paper is a must-have for toddlers- it can be used to create easy collages, suncatchers, and more without bothering with glue or other adhesives. And finally, we love incorporating natural elements such as sticks, rocks, leaves, and flowers into our art experiences- nature is full of inspiration!
I thought I would leave you with my favorite art project that I’ve done with my little ones so far…it was a hard decision, but it would have to be our Easter Egg Suncatchers! Even though it was a process focused activity, I was able to create a keepsake decoration from the finished collage by cutting it into egg shapes and using them to decorate our windows. You could use this same process to create decorations for lots of different occasions or even “just because” by varying the colors of the collage materials and the shapes that you cut out.
That’s is for this week’s installment of Toddler Art Tuesdays! Join us next week for our first art activity- Lindsay and I will both be posting finger paint activities- it’s bound to be a messy good time! Now hop on over to You are the Roots and see what toddler art wisdom Lindsay has for you today…I can’t wait!
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