Are you interested in starting a toddler art group? Or one for kids of any age? If yes, I encourage you to give it a try! And I so LOVE to hear when others have started their own children’s art groups, inspired by my book, blog, or own art groups.
Here’s an account of starting and running an art group for toddlers by Rachel Withers, our lovely and amazing editorial assistant here at The Artful Parent.
If you’re thinking about inviting other kiddos into your home for some art making fun, this will surely inspire you! Plus she shares lots of actionable tips and ideas to help you get started. -Jean
Diving Into a Toddler Art Group
Have you ever thought about starting a toddler art group?
In October I started hosting one in my home. I was originally inspired by reading Jean’s book, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity, after my son was born.
When he turned one, we moved to a larger apartment and I started thinking more seriously about hosting an art group.
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 on it because, as with most things, new endeavors can be a little scary. I joined The Artful Parent team this past summer and in talking with Jean and Melissa about their art group, I had the final encouragement I needed to get started.
And I’m so glad I did! So if you’re on the fence, hesitating, I would encourage you–do it!
How I Started A Toddler Art Group
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
More Toddler Art Group Ideas & Tips
- 7 Process Art Activities For Toddlers
- 11 Best Art Supplies for Toddlers
- 7 Tips for Doing Art With Toddlers
- 25 Best Kids Art Supplies
About the Author
Rachel is the Blog Editorial Assistant at The Artful Parent (you can read more about Rachel and the Artful Parent Team here). She is also a family portrait photographer at Rachel Withers Photography, with a passion for working with kids (follow Rachel on Instagram). And if that’s not enough, she teaches photography and art to elementary students! There’s nothing quite like the excitement of making art side-by-side with students as they explore and create.
Rachel lives in Portland, Maine, and loves going on adventures with her family, whether hiking, snow shoeing, or visiting that beautiful rocky coast. As a new mother, she is excited to explore how nature, art, and play combine in a child’s learning and development. Creating art with her son William and hosting a toddler art group are current highlights.
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