Getting out the art materials for very young children can seem like a daunting task that conjures up images of handprints on walls, scribbles all over furniture and more time taken to clean up than was actually spent on the activity. However, there is so much to be gained from providing toddlers with creative opportunities. As soon as they are able to hold and control pens and paint brushes etc, they can get started.
Art activities do not need to be messy, expensive or complicated. For young children, the most important thing is to give them time to explore materials and tools so they can understand how they work. Below are a few really simple options to get you started.
1. WATERCOLOUR PAINT PALETTE
A watercolour palette is far easier for little ones to use then paint in a bottle or tube. The colours are all laid out for them to see, they can easily dip in and out of different colours and cleaning up is really simple. Other paints are great for a range of projects but watercolours are perfect as an introduction.
- Provide brushes of different shapes and sizes to paint with so that your child
can start to see the range of effects that can be achieved. This Ikea set is
great as it includes flat and round brushed, all with short handles.
- Use a wide water jar that is less likely to fall over when knocked. Although
glass jars can smash, their heaviness makes them a good option. Just
supervise carefully to avoid any breakages.
- Use a range of textured cards and papers to paint on. For example,
newspaper, kitchen towel and corrugated card will all give different results.
- Stick the paper or card to the table using masking tape so that it doesn’t
move as your child paints.
- Show your child how to dip their brush into water and their chosen colour
before making marks on the page. Don't worry too much if they get the
order wrong as in time they will work out the process for themselves and see
that different result can be achieved with more water, less paint etc.
Stickers are great for developing fine motor skills and can be combined with drawing or painting to add more interest to the activity.
- Build a little collection of stickers that you can have to hand to quickly
and easily entertain a child at home or when you are out.
- Peel any surrounding away from sticker sheets so that you are just left with
the stickers on the backing paper. This makes them much easier for little ones
to peel off.
- Use stickers on paper or choose other interesting surfaces. Fruit and
vegetables are a good option as the stickers can usually be peeled off
afterwards and used again.
3. WASHABLE FELT TIP PENS
Felt tip pens are messier then crayons or pencils and your little one is sure to get ink on their hands. However, pens give a far richer colour and children will easily be able to see the marks they have made. I love these Crayola washable pens as they are shorter than many other types and they fit comfortably in little hands. The ink is also easy to wipe off walls or fabric. I know this as recently, Ava walked past my father-in-law’s cream sofa with a blue pen in her hand and I was able to easily remove the mark with a wet cloth. Phew!
- Help your child to hold the pens correctly but do not force this as it may put
- Use plain paper, colouring in pages of whatever you have to hand for
drawing on. As with painting, tape down the paper or card to stop it
- Discuss the colours as your child uses different pens and help them to match
each one to the correct lid when they have finished.
Collage with felt tip pen, watercolour and stickers by Ava (18 months).
Have fun experimenting with your art materials and use the hashtag #mylittlemakes_ to share any great photos over on Instagram. I’ll be back with some more ideas for your little ones soon.