Art Time, Toddler-Style!

A Hand-On Craft from Jill Jolton

If your home is filled with temper tantrums, toilet training and incessant chatter in an unknown language with the word “no” frequently repeated, chances are you are living with a toddler. While these busy babblers don’t yet have the coordination or patience for major arts-and-crafts projects, there are many creative experiences you and your toddler can enjoy together.

Age-appropriate art activities will help your little ones master fine-motor skills and help them learn about cause and effect as they make changes in materials (and make messes in your house!).

Keep these guidelines in mind when planning toddler art time:

Make sure all materials are non-toxic and washable.

Set up the art project in advance, while your toddler is napping or busy elsewhere. Remember, toddlers’ attention spans are short.

Be flexible with your projects – what starts out as finger painting may quickly become face painting. Go with it!

Emphasize the process of creating and not the finished product. If your activity is painting, try just using water and big paint brushes outside or in the bathtub. If there is not a finished product from your project, take pictures of the creative process to display instead.

Keep in mind that big, chunky art materials are easier for little hands to manipulate. Use big paint brushes or even kitchen utensils such as a whisk or sponge on a handle when painting. Also, homemade chunky crayons are easy to make. Just remove paper from broken crayon pieces and place in a foil-lined muffin tin. Place one color in each tin or mix colors for crazy crayons. Bake in a 350-degree oven until crayons melt. Cool and remove from foil.

Find shortcuts. Instead of messy glue or paste, staple contact paper with the sticky side up to a piece of construction paper. Let your little one create a beautiful collage by placing scraps of yarn, torn gift wrap or scrunched-up tissue paper to the sticky surface. The tearing and crumpling can be as much fun as the sticking!

Have fun! Get messy with your kids and enjoy this special time together!

For a complete list of all of Jill Jolton's Hands-On Crafts, click here.