Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Toddler Art

I wanted to share a few of Tyler's latest artistic endeavors with all of you and perhaps provide (and receive!) a few new ideas. Ty's really getting into painting, coloring and enjoys chalking inside (though its easy to see that he can't wait to get back outside on the driveway!). Tyler's art activities at this point are all open-ended. There's no picture in my mind that I expect to see at the end, no parts to glue and stick in a specific place, no "right" or "wrong" way to do it; it's all about creating as he sees fit. He likes this very much and it's enjoyable, if not beautiful, to watch him work with deliberate strokes and thought!

I remember years ago, working in a traditional American day care, where arts and crafts too often meant toddlers being shown a model of what they were to themselves create, with expectations to follow through appropriately from their teachers. It seemed incredibly silly for these young minds to grasp this concept, and then sad when a teacher would lean over to "fix" the work or to guide the child's hand the entire time in order to complete the craft. For example, the class would be asked sit down at the table and to create a paper plate turkey, gluing the feathers and parts of the neck and head in specific places. Typically the child would attempt to glue pieces randomly all over the plate (which is developmentally appropriate) and a teacher would then swoop in and interrupt to provide assistance. The result would be a nice looking turkey for the pleased parents to hang on the refrigerator at home, but the creativity, joy and imagination (the whole point of art!) had been squashed. The child took little of value from the activity and instead of a sense of pride and confidence was lost. The child was left thinking "I sure didn't do that right. I guess I'm not very good at that stuff" and may be less willing to do projects such as this in the future.

At times, I did happily observe other teachers showing a quick model, giving the pieces and letting the little toddlers do as they wished. These children were much happier and came away with a true experience and sense of accomplishment. They may not understand that they have just created a turkey, though the gluing, sticking and simply developing their creative powers was fun and they developed fine motor skills nonetheless. In my opinion, it's not important to control the young child's artistic efforts but to simply provide materials and safety rules around their use. When a child grows older, there can be some value in following directions and making a specific piece of art just like a model, though even then, the majority of art activities should be about the joy of creativity and imagination and building those skills with the child's own mind...and wherever that mind may naturally go. Isn't that, after all, what art is about?

Okay, onto the fun stuff...Ty creating art!

Ty really got into coloring with crayons in January. A piece of paper taped to his table and a few crayons are always ready for him (he's not drawing on the walls...yet)!

Ty noticed our box of chalk from the warmer months on a shelf this day and begged to have it. This seemed to fulfill his desire a bit.

Painting with a brush

Painting with Q-tips

Sponge painting

I found a three-pack of sponges in the dollar section at Target and cut them into different shapes.

First time using markers

Marble painting. The idea is to roll the container from side-to-side so that the marbles run through the paint, but Ty rejected that idea immediately, and decided to use the marbles to paint with directly.

I then grabbed him a brush to use as well.

Painting with cars and trains to make tracks.

Big hit for any car, truck or train lover! Textured or bumpy wheels would make excellent prints

Our first attempt at using glue stick to stick paper shapes. He found the sticky glue intriguing.

He was much too silly and full of amoxocillin stimulant to focus on this activity. Dumping the container of shapes become more interesting, so we'll try again soon!

I created a new sticky art wall yesterday, using shapes with decorative paper from my old scrapbooking supplies. Ty was thrilled and got right to work! I have a feeling this type of activity will be a fixture in our home for quite a while. If you missed my first blog about this activity, here's the link: http://jen-peacefulparenting.blogspot.com/2010/12/getting-creative-with-contact-paper.html

I have several new art activities that I'm excited to let Tyler try in the next few weeks. We'll see how they go! In the meantime, I'd love to hear what art endeavors you and your little ones have been excited about. I'm always looking for new ideas! 

While I love all of my Monet's and photography that decorate much of our house, to me, there's nothing like my child's artwork all over the walls to make our home feel cozy and full of love! 


  1. I just found out about your blog a few weeks ago. I ADORE it. I think what you are doing with your son is wonderful. I just started to introduce the 'montessori way' into our home; my husband is still a little skeptical, but mostly he supports me. I use your blog to show him all the wonderful things we could do with our son, so he doesn't have to read all my big scary books :) Thanks a lot for posting about all of this!
    And may I say, your son is adorable. :)

  2. Have you done any stamping? We have stamps from Crayola that are self inking animals that Chandler loves but I'm sure there are lots of other ideas for stamping!

  3. Thank you so much Gabzounette! I'm flattered and so glad to help. Best of luck on your Montessori at Home journey...I'd love to hear how things are going for you and any suggestions you may have for me as well. Figuring out Montessori on our own can certainly be difficult...makes me want to go get certified!

    Anonymous, I haven't done stamping yet, but Ty does enjoy helping put stamps on his hand after gymnastics class. I didn't know about the stamps from Crayola; I'm going to check those out for sure. Thank you!

  4. I found a link to the stamps Chandler loves:

    We also have been using bingo daubers that are made for kids in a variety of colors. Good/clean way to paint!

  5. Thanks! Funny, I actually asked my husband to look for Bingo Dabbers at the store he's going to tonight; I can't find them anywhere and I remember them being a huge hit when I worked in day care! Where did you buy yours? I used to get them at the dollar store years ago... I'm going to add those stampers to the list of things to look for while he's there. :)

  6. My mom has had ours for a few years but I saw them at Michaels when I was there last week. They come in multi color boxes.
    This is the brand:

  7. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!!!

  8. A few other 'process not product' suggestions off the too of my head ...
    1. Dip chalk in water before using or spray heavy paper with water then color with chalk
    2. Finger paint (home made or whatever) on counter or table top and lift a print to keep ( lay paper over drawing, lightly smooth and then peel off)
    3. When ready for glue, put Elmer's in a cleaned out finger nail polish bottle (a pain to clean out but worth it - I still have my first ones after 20 years of classroom use) . Demonstrate how to make a dot of glue although little ones enjoy painting all the same