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Diving Into A Toddler Art Group

by Rachel Withers
January 18, 2022

Discover ways to add art to your families life by starting your very own toddler art group.

Starting a Toddler Art Group

Updated March 2022

Are you interested in starting a children’s art group? After reading The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity by The Artful Parent founder Jean Van’t Hul, I was inspired to start my own toddler art group 4+ years ago.

Since that first art class, life has changed a lot! Our art groups started off with a group of friends, which eventually morphed into more official art classes in time. After my second child was born, I took a break for a bit. Eventually, I started a website to broaden my reach locally as I wanted to open up classes to new families.

Then the pandemic started and all that went on hold as classes, until then, had been in my home. I have yet to resume them, but I know I will at some point. And along the way, I learned a lot.

Below you’ll find my initial thoughts and reflections from the experience I gained along the way. Most of all, I hope that if you’ve been hesitant to start an art group, that this might be the encouragement that you (and I know I needed as well). Link arms with some friends you know, invite their friends and pretty soon (I have a feeling) you’ll have more interest than you’ll know what to do with.

Art is easier together. Toddlers and caregivers all find it more fun to do art with others and the mess is easier to engage in together.

Toddler Art Group

Pumpkin painting with toddlers

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When my son turned one, we moved to a larger apartment and I started thinking more seriously about hosting an art group.

Toddler Art Group - wheel painting

I had a few goals for this–

First, I stay home with my son, so I thought it would be a great way for both of us to get to know people. And I especially love the idea of inviting new parents that I meet to our group. 

I also wanted another outlet for him to play with other kids his age. I hoped watching his peers would encourage his own art making, because until recently, he was more interested in eating the supplies than using them!

And after having a baby, I was searching for a way to incorporate work I loved with my current stage of life.  

Despite all this, I dragged my feet for quite a while. But with encouragement from Jean and another co-worker, I finally jumped into it.

And I’m so glad I did! If you’re also on the fence, hesitating, I would encourage you to go for it.

Printing wrapping paper with toddlers

How I Started A Toddler Art Group

I’m a detail oriented person so I read and re-read everything Jean wrote about their toddler art group, from how to start one to process art ideas for toddlers.

I used Jean’s writing as a guide for my thought process in this. Our group is only a few months old so some of these details I’m currently revisiting.

1. How Broad an Age Range to Include

Initially I invited toddlers ages 1-2 years old so their abilities would be similar to my son’s, who was 18 months old at the time. 

As it turned out, multiple families had two kids and by default the older one would need to come as well. A few families asked if this would be possible so I widened our age range from 1-3 years old.

Although there are some big differences in skill sets, I find that this is where process art really shines! Any kid in that age range can happily squish paint in bubble wrap. Or move a car through paint.

2. Where To Find Families

I invited my neighbor and some friends, and also posted on our church website about it. Initially, I was hoping to get 4-6 families to commit to coming for the fall semester.

I was a little apprehensive at this point–I was excited about the idea, but wasn’t sure what type of response I would get. In the end, I had a total of 10 kids interested in participating.

One thing I really like about the art aspect is there is a purpose when we meet that naturally flows into friendship building.  And as I meet new parents at the library, church, or park, I can invite them as well.

Printing wrapping paper with toddlers

3. How Many Kids

I debated this question the longest. I wasn’t sure if I should have two groups with a smaller number of kids, or one big group–at the risk of total toddler chaos.

The first week, the two groups met separately. After getting a sense of what it was like, I decided to combine into one big group and meet more often.  

Although a group of 10 toddlers sounds daunting, I find that not everyone is able to make each meeting and the kids are actually pretty shy! They’re warming up as we continue to meet but so far, it’s has not been the all-out chaos that I feared.

4. How Often & What Time

Originally, we met once a month, but it just didn’t seem often enough for all the projects I hoped to try. After combining our groups, I decided I could realistically prep and host every other week. That would be often enough to start to create some continuity for the kids as well.

For me, the morning was the obvious choice as naptime is in the afternoon. We meet on Wednesday mornings for a little over an hour. The kids participate in the project as long as they’re interested and then run off to play. 

Printing wrapping paper with toddlers

5. Space & Setup

Currently we live in a fairly small space with no one room being the obvious option. I normally set up in the kitchen as the sink is nearby for easy cleanup and I have more options for keeping paint out of reach until we’re ready to actually begin. 

I also use our living room for bigger projects that work better on the floor. For those I cover the sofa with a drop cloth and move anything I don’t want paint on out of the room. And it works fine!

But I’m looking forward to summer when we can move outside to the deck with less prep involved. 

6. Cost & Communication

I currently plan our group in 3-month segments. Before the new quarter begins I send out a sign-up sheet with art group details. I ask parents to fill-in basic information about their child and submit the form and payment at or before the first meeting.

Right now, I ask parents to pay a small materials fee of $30 for 3 months (a total of 6 sessions). This cost covers the supplies that we use and by requesting it up front I can plan out the quarter accordingly. Recently, I’ve added a drop-in option for $5, for families that would like to test out the toddler art group before committing. 

On Monday of the week we’re meeting I send out a short email with the art activity I’m planning. This is a good opportunity to ask for any additional needed supplies such as cars/trucks for wheel painting. Or cookie cutters for printing wrapping paper.

7. What You Need

Before we first met, I ordered two adjustable plastic tables for our group. On the lowest setting they are a good height for most of the kids to stand at.

I already had a basic supply of paint, paper and brushes. I’m still tweaking this aspect and making sure the cost covers the supplies we use, which is sometimes hard to tell.

From here, I add art supplies as needed depending on the project.

Finally, I always have a pile of old hand towels on hand to mop up messes!

Blotto Art prints with the Toddler Art Group

It’s great to have such a supportive group of parents who are flexible and go with the flow as I tweak details. And I enjoy seeing the kids and their enthusiasm (or hesitation!) as they interact with the materials.

I hope this encourages you (especially if you’re on the fence) to try hosting a toddler art group! It really is so much fun. And don’t forget to follow along with me on Instagram for more process art ideas especially for toddlers and preschool age kids!

Blotto art prints with the Toddler Art Group

More Toddler Art Group Ideas & Tips

Pin It For Later

Thinking about starting a toddler art group? Read about my experience starting and running a regular art group for toddlers. Plus I share information to help you start hosting your own art group!

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