It’s the process, not the product.
We’ve all heard that, right? Especially as it relates to children’s art. I first heard it from MaryAnn Kohl, friend and author of more than two dozen books on kids’ art.
For young children, art is about the process of creating, not about how the finished artwork looks. And the younger the child, the more this is true.
A toddler making art is…
…exploring the materials, the tools, his body, the world around him, and cause and effect as he creates.
As the adult, you can guide her in her art explorations as you guide her interactions with the rest of the world—with loving awareness that she is actively forming her foundations for living and being in this world.
You can keep her safe by supervising closely and encouraging her to put the art materials on the paper rather than in her mouth.
“The paintbrush goes on the paper, not in the mouth.”
“Keep the marker on the paper.”
You can give her words to understand what she is doing.
“Look at the red dots you’re making! I see big dots over here and little dots over here.”
“What big swirls! It looks like it’s fun to move your arm and the crayon around and around that way.”
And you can also encourage her creativity by giving her permission to explore and experiment rather than expecting her to create the way you would.
“I see you’re stacking all the stickers on top of each other. How interesting”
“You’re experimenting with painting on top of the salt, too? What’s it like?”
Ready? Here is a selection of simple, process-oriented art activities for toddlers. These are the kinds of activities that they can do over and over again, in lots of different ways, as they begin to explore art.
7 Process Art Activities for Toddlers
More Toddler Art Resources and Tips
- 11 Best Art Materials for Toddlers
- Trays to contain the mess and other tools for a successful art experience
- How to encourage drawing skills, confidence, and creativity in young children
- How toddlers explore art materials and their world
- 7 tips for doing art with toddlers
- How to talk to kids about their art
- My book, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity, helps you develop a strong creative foundation for your child and includes tips on getting started, setting up an art space, choosing art materials, and making everyday creative. Plus it includes lots of favorite art activities for toddlers!
- If you’re looking for a book specifically on toddler art activities, First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos is the book by MaryAnn Kohl that I would start with. Another good one, but for a range of ages, is Scribble Art: Independent Creative Art Experiences for Children.
One last thing…
Remember that a toddler’s attention span may be quite short. Like five minutes, even. And that’s okay. It is still well worth giving them the opportunity to explore and create with art materials, even if it is for just 5 or 10 minutes at a time.
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