There’s no doubt about it. Toddlers love messing around with art materials, whipping up wild and wonderful creations to be hung on the refrigerator with great pride. From handprint collages to whimsical valentine cards and fragrant playdough masterpieces, tots dive into art projects with great enthusiasm. But art is more than just fun; it’s also great for your preschooler’s fine motor skills, language development, imagination and inventiveness. Following are a few ideas for expanding your little one’s artistic horizons.
Art Adventures at Home
Make your kitchen a little art classroom. Tots don’t have a lot of material demands in the art department, but variety is key to their creative endeavors. Cover the table in a protective cloth and bring out the play dough, paints (washable!), crayons, colored paper and paste and let the good times roll. Collages are always fun and the materials may be right in your house already. Try glitter, macaroni, feathers, cut-up old greeting cards, magazines, playing cards (did you always wonder what to do with those decks with one card missing?), seeds, sequins or wrapping paper. The list is limited only by your imagination. And keep in mind that it’s the process of creating that’s important not coloring within the lines. So, be encouraging of your toddler’s art. Let them talk about their masterpiece. It’s a great way to boost language skill development as well as getting a bit of insight into the thought processes of your young child.
Let’s Hear It for the Library
Local libraries often run a super slate of kids’ activities, with toddler story times combining books and an associated craft activity. It’s a great place to let the little ones whip up some colorful masterpieces while at the same time experiencing the joy of books and having a chance to meet other tots. Library story times are free, fun and a super way to encourage both a love of art and a love of books.
Day Camp Creations
Tots who spend a morning at summer day camp get plenty of chances to let their creative flags fly in daily arts-and-crafts classes, one part of a schedule jam-packed with indoor and outdoor fun. Your little one will bring home all sorts of projects and decorations from nature-themed collages to funky jewelry, scratch art and colorful airplanes. Art classes are always a camper favorite, since it’s so much fun to dive into paints, clay and crayons surrounded by camp pals and fun-loving counselors.
Cool Community Center Classes
Community centers, YMCAs and year-round day camps usually offer a nice selection of toddler art classes. Depending on your child’s age, classes may involve a parent and adult, which gives both you and your tot a chance to spend some time together while meeting new friends and channeling your inner artist in a delightfully messy toddler way.
Getting Hands-On at the Museum
For a cool combination of art and science, wildlife or history, check out the toddler program schedule at a local zoo or museum. Lots of these institutions run programs for youngsters that mix up a little education along with some artsy endeavors and of course some lively socializing. Children’s museums usually run a wonderful variety of programs for all ages of kids, incorporating art into everything from music to science and literature. Art museums often run family programs that use drawing, picture books and music to help bring works of art to life. For a really wild hour, try toddler time at the local petting zoo which is always a big hit when it combines a story, an art activity and a real “wildlife” encounter with critters more their size.