Art is a vital part of human development. According to A Place of Our Own, an online and television channel for caregivers, toddler art activities help children develop fine motor control as well as early math skills and exercise their innate creativity.
This is all good and well, but, for parents who haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a while, it can be hard to branch out past crayons and markers. Here are six easy and inexpensive toddler craft ideas that kids will love.
Just remember, at this phase of development, art is about the process not the end product. Don’t expect a masterpiece just yet. Instead focus on feeling textures and experimenting not just with colour but cause and effect as well.
Make Foam Paint for Toddler Crafts
Homemade “foam” paint can be made with glue, paint, and shaving cream. Take equal amounts of glue and shaving cream (regular Barbasol shaving cream works well), mix and then add finger paint or tempura paint until desired colour is achieved.
Note that most shaving creams are heavily scented, so if that is an issue look for unscented shaving cream.This creates a really foamy finger paint that provides a fun sensory experience for budding artists. When it dries, it’s puffy and creates a three dimensional effect.
Glue is the Key to Toddler Art Activities
Glue in general presents a variety of great childs play craft opportunities. The options are endless, but here are three to get parents started.
- Squeeze a trail of glue on paper and have toddlers cover the glue with feathers, which are inexpensive and available at any craft store. The glue can even be used to “draw” a picture or the child’s name.
- Take pinking shears and cut all sorts of different shapes (triangles, squares, rectangles, etc) out of construction paper or even old catalogs. Toddlers will enjoy selecting shapes to glue onto their paper.
- Glue pom pom balls onto construction paper. Toddlers will love dipping the fluffy pom poms into glue and applying them to paper.
Finger Paint Without the Mess or Clean Up
Here’s a new twist on finger paints: Put the paint in gallon sized plastic storage bags and seal. Children can then draw on the bag with their finger, creating and erasing designs over and over again. Because there’s no mess to clean up, this is great for traveling in the car or for long waits at restaurants.
Mess Free Watercolours
Watercolours are relatively mess free and a fun toddler craft that many parents haven’t thought to try. The key is to skip the water, which is prone to spilling. Instead, simply run water over the paints and brushes until wet. This way toddlers will be able to paint freely and parents won’t have to worry about spills. Don’t forget to provide a variety of different brushes for toddlers to experiment with.
Stickers Combine Art and Academics
Use stickers for a variety of easy crafts for toddlers. Lots of stickers. Why? Stickers are a fun way to build vocabulary, explore new concepts and keep toddlers busy. Use them with crayons or paints or by themselves.
Many craft stores have a big selection of inexpensive stickers for £1.00 or less. Giant sticker books can also be found inexpensively at bookstores and are a great investment for parents looking to expand the repertoire of toddler art activities.
Make Toddler Crafts With Stamps
Stamps are a great toddler craft. The ink pad will be the biggest expense, but lasts for months and foam stamp cubes cost as little as 50 pence at craft stores. Work on creating a stamp library that covers major seasons, holidays and includes letter as well as number stamps.
The stamps will see years of use. Not only can toddlers create pictures, brown paper grocery bags can be recycled into gift wrap using the stamps for decoration.
All of these toddler art activities – foam paint, watercolours, stickers, stamps, finger painting and glue – use inexpensive items and there’s no goal other than the experience itself. This open ended approach to art takes pressure off parents and allows kids the freedom to express themselves with no expectations. Beyond that, the fine motor control, hand-eye coordination and academics fostered through toddler crafts will last a life time.