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Friday, March 12, 2010

Art with toddlers and twos


Recently, I was asked for ideas of art that can be displayed or saved. The request led me to write this post.


I will address the specific request but first I need to share a few pointers about art with toddlers and twos. 

When it comes to toddlers and young twos, it is important to understand that the most important thing to consider when it comes to art is the experience. Even if one wants something to put up on the refrigerator or to save as a keepsake, the experience is what will invite a toddler or two year old to participate. 


To get a toddler or two interested in art, the experience should invite the child to want to explore. Bright colors, interesting tools (paint brushes, paint sponges, paint rollers, stamps, cookie cutters), interesting art mediums or materials (paint, play dough, pudding, pasta, shave cream, paper, stickers, fabric), and different sensory experiences (rice, sand, glitter, salt, flavorful oils) are all ideas for getting toddlers and twos interested in exploring art. 


The setting for experiencing art should vary too. Perhaps take the art experience outside, sit on a floor, paint on an easel, or tape the activity to a window. Toddlers are incredibly curious about their world and the idea of sitting at a table staring at one thing and spending any time on that one thing probably isn't too appealing for most toddlers and younger twos.


Timing is also a factor. Where possible, leave the art out and allow the toddler or young two year old to come and go to the experience rather than making art a 30 minute sit down plan.  Have other centers open or activities available and encourage the child to come back to the art experience and try a little more. Some children will naturally stay more engaged in the process and others will only be slightly interested. 


Part of exploring any art activity is getting a bit messy. Toddlers and young twos use their whole body and all their senses to explore new materials. It is how they learn about their world. Too often I hear about adults taking the experiences away and opting for non-messy or no-risk art because it isn't messy or risky. The problem is, the child learns through these experiences and will only improve their skills and their understanding of how to handle art materials and mediums if they are given the opportunity to do so. Of course, all activities presented to a small child should be age appropriate and monitored for safety.



Back to the original parent request
The request was to find ideas for artwork that can be saved and kept as a keepsake. See the lovely artwork above? I will now trim this up and put it in a little frame. I will probably cut off the words at the bottom too. I want this artwork to be all child - no adult. I will add a date to the artwork in the corner and a name and tuck it away or hang it up on a wall. When I look back at this, I will know by the kind of paint strokes that are on the paper and the date in the corner that this was where Wy was developmentally at this time. 





Any art can be displayed or framed or saved!


The key to really enjoying a piece of artwork as a keepsake or as something for display is to..

1. Make sure the art is really something child-made.
2. Make sure the art shows something that reminds you of what it was like when the child was a toddler or two year old.
3. Take the art and frame it or laminate it or put it in a scrap book.
4. Add a small name and date in the corner so to remember the age of the child when it was made.
5. And don't be afraid to trim the art.

I visited one of my preschool parents and hanging on their wall was a beautifully framed piece of artwork with bright colors and shapes. When I inquired about the art, the parents said "you should recognize that, it was made in your classroom!"  Looking closer, I could see it was simply a tissue paper art project with bright colors of tissue paper and liquid starch but the framing added a shine and made it look like a masterpiece!

Check out this framed artwork on Little Family Fun blog! 

Recently on Teach Preschool Facebook, the teachers helped me come up with a list of things to do with two's and toddlers.  See the great ideas below...


Teach Preschool Toddlers and Twos need experiences in the arts rather than a specific craft to make. Would you help me create a list of *art* experiences (you have observed) that toddlers and twos really like to do!



Rebekah Arnold Anderson
Rebekah Arnold Anderson
collages! Remember it is the process not the product!

Lyndsey Nicole Loft
Lyndsey Nicole Loft
painting with cars and trucks! always a hit!!

Teach Preschool
Teach Preschool
My 15 month old nephew likes to paint as long as he can come and go - not just sit still. I set out the paper and paint and sponge brushes and he paints a bit then wanders to something else, then he comes back and paints some more:)

Loria Mariel Morales
Loria Mariel Morales
the classic finger painting a mural!

Trish Meli Pruzhansky
Trish Meli Pruzhansky
The toddler room in my school did sponge paintings and acorn painting. For acorn painting she helped them collect acorns on the playground. The using cardboard boxes form a department store, she put dabs of paint nad let them shake it.
Loria Mariel Morales
Loria Mariel Morales
Hmmm!!! I have never tried the rice with paint, will do it next time! Sure we'll have fun!

Carol Martin Black
Carol Martin Black
We make structures in my classroom. I get left over pieces of wood from a cabinet shop or a construction builder. We use wood glue and they tell me what they are building. I have several items that they can add. Pasta bow butterflies, beans, beads, feathers and such. Then they paint it and we display them in our classroom.

Laura Spalding Gorham
Laura Spalding Gorham
Painting with roller brushes, they love to glue anything, finger painting or easel painting, making our own playdoh etc. We create art everyday using mostly recycled materials.

Shara Lawrence-Weiss
Shara Lawrence-Weiss
We like to go outside and gather up leaves and sticks and greenery. They love to glue those things around a piece of paper in any which way.

Stacie Stiles Casey
Stacie Stiles Casey
toddlers and two's still put things in their mouths, so I'd use pudding for painting! Or make some edible play dough and let them "make" mountains, snakes, cookies, or whatever they want! :)

Sheryl Jones Cooper
Sheryl Jones Cooper
Painting with brayers; driving cars through paint; painting obects (3D); easel painting; shaking anything on gluey surfaces.

Jacqui McHale Mullen
Jacqui McHale Mullen
painting with their feet, get a white sheet put it on the floor with small pans of paint. Let them walk through the paint and on the sheet. Gets messy, but it is sooooo much fun

Alexa Chaplin
Alexa Chaplin
Anything they can stand to do - a low table works great for art at this age. Do-a-Dot markers, painting with sponges, toothbrushes, feathers, pine cones, yarn, fingers, toes - pretty much anything they can dip in paint and then splat on the paper is a hit here!

Becki Webber
Becki Webber
in our toddler room they've laid out contact paper (sticky side up) and let the toddlers stick things to it; fall leaves, tissue paper, flower petals, fabric pieces, etc... they seemed to really enjoy this and then they hung them in the windows for the light to shine through! :o)

Mimi Keeler Leach
Mimi Keeler Leach
Contact paper collages! Put clear contact paper sticky side up and supply variously textured collage materials - fabric scraps, sandpaper, wallpaper, feathers, etc. Can be a group or individual activity. If desired, add a piece of construction paper to the back (that is, of course, if anything remains on the sticky part when they're done!) to make a window.

Sasha Kellogg
Sasha Kellogg
I haven't read all the comments but I love to mix cool whip and jello together to let them 'color' with it. When it dries, not only is it bumpy but smells yummy too. It's a wonderful texture experience for them and it's safe if they eat it! My kids love felt too. We have a felt board in our room and they can play with felt peices or I can use it...
Laurie Ireland
Laurie Ireland
Some things they enjoy in the twos:
Marble art--squirt paint on marbles in a box and let the kids shake the box. I like to do marble art spider webs, black paint on white paper or white paint on black paper. The kids add a sticker or fingerprint spider and we read Eric Carle's "The Very Busy Spider".
Popcorn in panty hose, dip it in paint, then...

Brenda Gardner Jones
Brenda Gardner Jones
glue and glitter; spraying colored water onto a white sheet; blowing runny paint/ink with straws; colored packing peanut collages

Alison Cass
Alison Cass
I think that music is included within the broad arts group and think music experiences are very valuable... My toddlers love hot plate covers (metal) of different sizes placed in the sand pit with different spoons (wooden, plastic, metal), or I've filled small organza bags with different things such as rice, foil, small bells, large bells, marbles...
Alison Cass
Alison Cass
By doing that I think the children come up with more meaningful and wonderful experiences than my mind could think of! And it's wonderful to watch the exploration and discoveries they make when provided with art materials

Dana Cheyanne Suggs
Dana Cheyanne Suggs
shaving cream is always fun. you can also add tempra paint to it so it changes colors. the older 2's sometimes like to mix it themselves. we also put small objects inside of the metal or plastic coffee cans (the paper wraps around the indside) and let them add a spoonful of paint, put the lid on and they can shake/roll/etc to create their project. most of them LOVE doing this. it seems to work really well if you have fast music going too.

Barbara Blalock
Barbara Blalock
I just had a teacher come in to laminate posters of her infants and toddlers body painting. She had the pictures of them doing it framed around the painting. Very cute!

Sharon Gear
Sharon Gear
I find finger painting is a fav for ALL ages (adults included) I have also done what I call 'ice painting' simply freeze coloured water on the icy-pole sticks and let the children hold onto the stick while moving the 'icy-pole' over the paper....they will of course try to eat the 'icy-poles' but a bit of food dye and water won't hurt anybody

Alejandra Cruz Milano
Alejandra Cruz Milano
A good painting technique is rolling pins and sponges and stamps made from appes, carrots, potatoes, ornges. Also use foam (shaving cream mixed with finger paint and paining with straws you make paint really liquid by mixing it with water and then you give a straw to the children they have to blow the paint blobs it is really fun and great ...
Tom Hobson
Tom Hobson
All of these are good. One I haven't seen on this list is gutter painting. We line a couple lengths of house gutter with adding machine tape, dip balls in paint, then let them roll down the gutter. We use an overturned table lined with butcher paper to catch the balls at the end. There are a lot of fun ways to display the resulting rainbow "ribbons."

Debbie Arcaro
Debbie Arcaro
Recycled sculpture - have everyone bring in something that can be recycled - Take everything and with help of an adult who mans the glue gun, glue together one item at a time to make a recycled group sculpture. I started one off with an egg carton, another time a pizza box. We've had so much fun with this type of art that they ask again and again ...
Gail Arsenault
Gail Arsenault
bubble wrap painting...use peices to create a cooperative collage
clear contact paper and lots of spring magazine or seed catalogue pictues to make a Spring Fling collage

Meredith Giltner
Meredith Giltner
Recently I tried a new painting method with washable markers. I made a canvas of muslin on cardboard and let my 27 month old son draw a picture and than O gave him a cup of water and brush and he painted over the marker. He used his finger as well. They turned out amazing and he has them in his room on a book shelf.

Penny Bernath
Penny Bernath
One of my favorites is giving two's a squeeze of baby lotion to finger paint on their baby dolls. It smells so good in the room and the kids love rubbing lotion on their dolls - then themselves of course. Next we get out the bubble bath and some little sponges. Good FUN!

Robyn Guinn Fischer
Robyn Guinn Fischer
Such wonderful ideas.....preschool teachers are sooooo creative. I've seen alot of these art projects in various age classrooms and open ended art projects are the best way to go with any preschooler. One project we tried just recently was to take large pieces of paper outside and hang them from the playground fence. We filled large spray bottles of colored water (either food coloring or liquid watercolors) and let the kiddos spray away! The beautiful designs were then cut up in various shapes to decorate a classroom bulletin board.

Teach Preschool
Teach Preschool
Awesome!!!

7 comments:

early childhood education said...

Arts and crafts activities provide hours of fun and learning for toddlers. Try some of these activities like Cling Wrap Painting,Ice Cube Painting,Bubble Wrap Printing,Paper Bag Faces,Paper Bag Faces,Chalk Fun with your 1½ to 3-year-old child to boost his or her creativity.

Mama King said...

Great post! So many great points and ideas.

Kathy Sykes said...

What a great post and something I will use for St.Patricks Day and Easter. Will now be following you on Facebook

artsy_momma said...

Absolutely Awesome post! You are such a wonderful writer (and singer). We are all about the messy projects in this house! I just make sure to cover the entire work area including the floor :)

Annie's Alphabet said...

Large Paintbrushes and buckets of water....My guys love this. Great site! Thanks

The Honorable Mention said...

SO many people avoid working with todds for the reason that they believe they should behave like 3-year-olds. Todds are so simplistic and easy going in their approach to the world, most don't think of them that way but they are.
This post really get's that across.
I love working with todds for this reason-they appeal to my 'hippy' side. So far they 'get' me & I 'get' them...we work well together.
Great post!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

I never worked with Toddlers in the classroom but I have been spending a lot of time caring for my 15 mo. old nephew this year and watching closely his development and interests. I adore him and am amazed at how capable he is. I test out all my ideas on him!

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