Making our studio toddler friendly

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I reorganized our studio (which doubles as a laundry room) earlier this month to make it more toddler friendly. The goal was to make the studio accessible for Daphne and the toddler art group (mostly by lowering the table) while making it safe for them. I wanted everything within Daphne's reach to be be safe for her – i.e. nothing sharp, toxic, or a choking hazard. Of course I plan to be supervising her when she's in here, but still need to keep it safe.

With that in mind, I rearranged the items on the studio shelves so that tape, markers, Do-a-Dot markers, paintbrushes, and paper are on the lower shelf that Daphne can reach. The glitter glue is there for now as well since Daphne doesn't know how to unscrew the tops yet.

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You all saw this coming, right? This is what Daphne likes to do with the items she can reach — toss them on the floor.

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Above the lowest shelf are a couple of shelves that Maia can reach but Daphne can't. They hold paints (tempera and watercolors) as well as fabric scraps, feathers, scissors, hole punch, oil pastels, and painting utensils (rollers, foam brushes, scrubbies, etc).

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At the top are shelves that only I can reach. They hold bins of acrylic paint, printing stuff (brayer, printing ink), hot glue gun, etc as well as extra paper. I keep the liquid watercolors up there too because they can make quite a mess and are not very washable.

Okay, on to the rest of the studio…

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As I said, the studio table was lowered to toddler height which means it's great now for Daphne and the toddler art group. It also means it's really too short for Maia. It was getting too short for her before we lowered it and now it's way too short. She still uses it but looks rather comical when she does. I'd like to find a second studio table the right height for her.

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For now, though, I brought the easel into the studio as an alternate work surface for Maia. It's standing where my sewing table used to be and I really like how the studio feels with it.

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I've mentioned before that we have a new dresser in the studio. The lower drawers contain things that I don't mind Daphne getting into — cotton balls, wood blocks, splat mat, yarn. The middle drawers have papers of various kinds and are accessible by Maia — construction paper, watercolor paper, drawing paper, tissue paper, blank books. The top drawers have a few things I'd like to control access to, such as the Pentel fabric crayons, glitter, and crayon shavings. Also, as you can see, our art drying wall is partially obstructed by the dresser, which is okay for now, but not a great long term solution. (Note: This picture was taken right before the table was lowered.)

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Last of all, our studio has a door to keep Daphne out if necessary — if Maia's using materials I don't want Daphne to get into or if I can't be there to supervise her.

As for the rest of the house — I've mostly just been moving art materials slowly up as Daphne's reach has extended. Some of what we used to keep out on tables has been moved to the studio and some I've just put higher up. While I want to keep some materials away from Daphne completely (scissors!), others I want her to use when supervised (crayons, markers, chalk, paint). This toddler accessibility issue will be ongoing and will obviously continue to change as she grows older. Some things I'll keep moving higher up, some things I'll start leaving out for her to use on her own.

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  1. says

    Great tips…I can’t tell you how many times I have scrubbed crayon off my walls in the last few weeks. Our little one is FAST! :)

  2. tasha says

    Brilliant!!! I needed to see this. Thank you. My almost 15-month old is not really free to have access to art supplies at this point- they are really just way too delicious. He salivates for markers, chalk, and crayons. He’s always got colorful flecks waiting in his diaper for me, from the past day’s teething fest on the beeswax block crayons. So, yeah… all art supplies are way out of his reach, and accessible only to our 4 year old.

  3. says

    I love the idea of having one place for all art. I love sending the message that you art is just as valid as mine, that all the supplies are for ‘us’. The reality is acrylic handprints forever on carpet, and overpriced watercolor paper. Our “perfect solution” to art supply placement seems to change every season…

  4. says

    The photo where the supplies aree on the floor is my world! Though my almost toddler likes to take books off the shelves. I can’t tell how big your studio is, but how about a table that can glide over top of the other for storage? That way, the floor would be free? This is how I am imagining making it work for my 2 girls (4 and 11 months). Right now, the little one sits on my lap for painting, or the floor for markers and crayons. Does Daphne have on a fuzzi bunz diaper? We use cloth while at home. Thanks for the post. I love looking at other peoples art supplies. Gives me ideas for new things and for Christmas presents.

  5. says

    Daphne loves to eat the crayons, chalk, and markers, too. I let her use them when I can sit down with her and move the hand holding the crayon back to the paper (repeatedly) and say things like, “keep the crayon on the paper” “paper only” “draw on the paper” etc (repeatedly). And after a couple minutes when that gets old (for me, not for her), I put the materials away until the next time. I remember doing the same thing with Maia!

  6. says

    I love the idea of nesting tables! The toddler table is so large, though, that I’m not sure I’d find a Maia-sized table big enough to go over it.
    Yes, Daphne’s wearing a fuzzi bunz. We usually use them at home as well.

  7. says

    I am fairly lucky….as my daughter who is 2 loves to paint but she is very patient for me to pull everything out and wipe her hands afterwards. She used to love to finger paint but now that she has found brushes…that is what she wants to do. We made 3 different paintings when she came home from school using acrylics and then finger paints. Love art and love your site.

  8. Light says

    Good work! I’ve done some of the same for my 15-month old. The great thing about giving some exposure to these materials is that, though little, they actually learn how to use and enjoy them! A bonus, when you want to be able to work with different aged kids at once!

  9. says

    We have a mix of stuff that my toddler can reach, because that’s how our storage is set up. It’s all worked out okay so far. We always have crayons available, and yes, we have crayon drawings on the walls, from more than one child, too. I recently heard a horror story about a 3yo who climbed up on the glass stove top (cracking it in the process) to get to the forbidden cupboard, and then she wreaked havoc with the permanent markers and scissors. There’s definitely an object lesson there, I think!

  10. says

    nicely done! the last picture is so cute of your little ones. i can’t decide which one looks more like you, but i think it’s daphne. they’re so lucky to have a mom like you!

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing this post! It was really helpful. As my godchild moves to mark making age I want to encorportate some of your ideas!

  12. Liisa says

    Thank you for sharing, yes, supplies on the floor is where we’re at but she loves it (and I remind myself that when I see the mess)! Also, she is already unscrewing caps so we have had to look at those for being put up. Thanks again, look forward to all your sharing.

  13. Halley's Mommy says

    The timing of this post is incredible. My 18month old wants to “drawdraw” and “pent” constantly. We made a long/low drawing table for her last week. I pulled out my childhood desk & chair for a drawing nook off to the side of the kitchen. And I added a painted chalkboard wall as you come in the house. But in the last week I have had marker marks on the chalkboard, chalk marks on the drawing desk… oy vey! Basically if it can be used to make a mark, she wants to use it. And she isn’t old enough to fully understand “no” or “not here, but yes here”. I have no solutions that are working as of yet, except higher shelves as you suggest. And locking drawers.

  14. says

    WOW! It’s been awhile since I stopped by here, and Oh. My. you’ve got a TODDLER!!! She was just a baby, like brand new, the last time I stopped by. And Maia is looks all grown up! I’ll be stopping by more often as I’ve missed you and I always get such inspiration from you!

  15. Bonnie says

    I love that someone else shares their art space with the laundry room. My grandson, now 3, wants to explore everything in mine, esp. the tools, which are by and large dangerous.