Making art with babies and toddlers can be engaging, kid-friendly and fun with an Art Crawl.
If you’ve been reading The Artful Parent for any length of time, you know how much I love to introduce kids to new-to-them art materials, even at a really early age. The joy and wonder that the littlest ones have while smooshing and splattering paint is pretty magical.
So when Andres Solorzano emailed me about making art with babies and toddlers at the Art Crawl events they have been doing at the Zimmer Children’s Museum in Los Angeles, I loved it!
I asked Andres if he’d be willing to write a post about his experience with Art Crawls. I hope it inspires you to see the many possibilities for creativity in young children (or maybe even inspires you to host your own art crawl for babies or toddlers!)
Art Crawls: Making Art with Babies and Toddlers
In my time at the Zimmer Children’s Museum, finding engaging and worthwhile art experiences for children has sometimes proved to be a daunting task in such a tech-focused city.
It can be especially challenging for parents seeking a safe, engaging, age-appropriate art experience for their youngest of children; toddlers and crawlers. Fortunately, making art with babies can be tons of fun in the right venue!
At the Zimmer Children’s Museum, where we are “Playing Our Way to A Better World”, we have come up with a simple way to get crawlers & toddlers on their first steps to an art-filled life.
We call it Art Crawl. I’d love to share it with you.
How to Set Up an Art Crawl
First, we need to turn the entire room into our canvas. At the Zimmer, we roll out enough white butcher paper to cover the entire surface! That way, kids can walk, crawl, or just sit and explore materials at their own pace. Art with babies and toddlers made simple!
Butcher paper is perfect for a quick setup and is strong enough to handle the paint while still bright enough to let the colors shine. Tape each sheet of paper to the next, overlapping only slightly.
Next, we collect our baby-safe painting tools! At the Zimmer, we avoid using typical paint brushes because the bristles can come off, posing a danger to wee ones.
Instead, we use silicone pastry brushes. These brushes are safe, easy to clean (and easy for little fingers to grasp), and satisfying to use.
To add a little more excitement to the painting process, we sometimes bring out bouncy balls or invite kids to bring along their favorite toy car; they love seeing the paint bounce and roll across the room.
Of course, we also need paint! We offer two paint options that work for making art with babies and toddlers:
- Non-toxic washable tempera paint. This school standard paint by Colorations is perfect for the messiest of painters. When it comes time for clean-up, all it takes is a quick pass with some warm water and your child can get back to toddling.
- Because some kids cannot resist the enjoyment of exploring paint with their mouths, we also offer a fully edible flour-based paint that we make in-house. Best thing about flour paint? It’s easy to make.
Recipe for edible paint
You’ll need the following:
- Food coloring
- 2 cups flour
- Boiling water
- Cold water
- Scoop 2 cups of flour into a big bowl.
- Add cold water mixed with drops of food coloring and stir until you make a paste with no lumps.
- Then add freshly boiled water a little at a time and stir until you get the desired consistency.
(Note: Flour paint is stickier than tempera so be prepared for a lengthier clean-up.)
We then lay out plates filled with inviting puddles of paint.
Finally, with the room paper-covered, the tools plentiful, and the paint poured, it’s Art Crawling time! It’s so much fun making art with babies and toddlers in an environment with no worries about mess.
The end result of all this color splash may leave you with paint-splattered children. Fortunately, with water-based paint, clean-up is quite simple.
Fill a couple of plastic mixing tubs with about 3-4 inches of warm water and have your child stand in (or sit beside) the tub while you do a quick pass with water and towel. The paint should wipe off with ease.
Once all guests have departed, clean-up should be as simple as rolling up your paint splattered butcher paper and tossing it out. Keep a portion of your burgeoning Banksy’s work as a memento of baby’s first foray into art.
I hope this Art Crawl tour has gotten you excited for making art with babies and toddlers in your own way! Maybe you even want to plan your own Art Crawl Party? I guarantee that it will bring smiles to everyone in the room, no matter the age.
Want to host your own Art Crawl? Here’s a list of supplies to help you along the way.
- White butcher paper
- Non-toxic water-based paint or edible flour paint (see recipe above)
- Silicone pastry brushes
- Plates (paper or plastic)
- Bucket or mixing tub
- Toys such as balls or cars with wheels (optional)
- Baby wipes
And if you ever find yourself in sunny Los Angeles, drop by the Zimmer Children’s Museum where we are “Playing Our Way to a Better World” every day.
Do you have a great idea for making art with babies or young toddlers? Leave a comment below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andres Rey Solorzano is the assistant Floor Manager and Art Crawl coordinator at The Zimmer Children’s Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
Formerly a Theater Teaching Artist in Boston elementary schools, Andres continues to share new ways for kids and families to learn through art. As a working actor & musician, he encourages people of all ages to pick up a brush, a guitar, a camera, or anything that inspires them to look at the world around them with a fresh perspective.
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