Toddler Art!

When I was a kid my mom had a craft drawer and she basically allowed my brother and I free access to it. It was filled with finger paints, construction paper, glitter, glue, tissue paper – you name it. She let us make whatever we wanted with any of the supplies in the craft drawer, and if I was bored I was encouraged to create something. If I had an idea of something I wanted to make my mom was also very supportive. Once I wanted to make tissue paper clothes (who knows why) and my mom said – “you should use crate paper, it’s much stronger”. I was like, “the stuff streamers are made out of?” and she said “yeah, only you can get wide sheets of it” then she took us to a craft store and bought us some. I still remember making pants and a tunic style shirt out of crate paper and decorating them with glitter and sequins – fun times. Pretty much I had the coolest mom ever. In school I quickly got the title of “artsy” which I didn’t mind at all and the older I got the more elaborate the art supplies got. If we tried something in art class that I loved my mom would get me whatever materials necessary to replicate it at home. So growing up I had watercolors, chalk pastels, oil pastels, tempera paint, clay, a silk screen, calligraphy pens, and numerous other supplies. And when I was 15 and I wanted to take photography… my mom handed over her Canon AE1 slr and then bought be a new lens for it too (it’s a very good camera and I used it forever). So all of that to say – I hope to be as supportive of Simon’s passions as my mom was of mine. And! one of the fun things about having kids is that you get to relive a lot of the fun stuff that you did as a kid (or wanted to do) so that’s what I am doing with Simon. He is getting to be at a really fun age now where he understands the concept of art and likes to create stuff so I am trying to expose him to all the age appropriate materials that I can and just let him experiment and have a good time. So in addition to the standard toddler finger painting Simon has also enjoyed working with chalk and oil pastels, tempera paints, liquid watercolors, and finger painting with corn syrup. The corn syrup painting is what he is doing in the next set of photos. He was supposed to just dip his fingers into the “paint” (it’s just Karo corn syrup mixed with food coloring) and spread it on the paper but pretty fast he discovered that it was much more fun to just poor the paint out on the paper and mix colors. Whatever, it looked like fun to me too.

Here he is the first time I let him play with glue. I gave him some tissue paper squares to glue down on paper. He loved the glue part (obvisously)

this took awhile to dry but it turned into a pretty cool 3-d piece.

So the dilemma is always what to do with all the masterpieces – there is only so much room on ones refrigerator. Don’t worry I have a plan. I saw this post on Ohdedoh awhile ago (can’t find it now) where a kid’s parents had photographed a bunch of her artwork and then made it into one giant poster. It was pretty cool. It gave me the idea to make a book of Simon’s art. So for now I mainly date the back of his artwork and throw it in a pile. As I have time (in batches) I photograph it and once I have a substantial collection I plan to have one of those photo books printed. I think it will make a cool keepsake and a way to look at his artistic progress. Here are a few of my favorites so far.

this is the standard finger painting – Simon always wants to use all of the colors.

This is one of my favorite watercolors he has done so far. This was done with liquid watercolors (much easier for toddlers) and this is the “wet on wet” technique. Meaning he started with wet paper which lets the colors blend together more. He said the green part was a mountain.

and this is the finished tissue and glue project that he was working on above.

So, if you have any experience with toddlers or with teaching art and you have some recommendations I am all ears. We are always looking for new crafts to try so go ahead and leave me a comment : ) We don’t mind messes!

until next time


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  1. Faye

    This is really wonderful Emily. What a great tribute to your mom who did so many things right. I’m pleased to see you passing this gift on to your children. May they grow to be as inquisitive, willing to experiment, and as creative as you.

  2. Kay Weaver

    What sweet memories Emily and thank you for your comments. As a parent you try your best and sometimes you do some things right.

  3. Winona

    I work in a preschool/daycare and my favorite things that the kids do is with shaving cream on paper! It’s so weird and puffy when it dries, like clouds! Just the other day I organized a little art project where we cut out paper umbrellas and the kids did polka dots with bingo dobbers so they were polka dot umbrellas! Another project I loved was one where the teacher would get a box and some marbles and have the child place their paper inside with some paint and the child would shake the box to spread the paint. Also, letting them roll toy cars over paint on paper to drag the paint around in tire marks is so fun for them!

  4. Perfect to allow S do crafts all free.. Fun boy!!

  5. what an awesome mom you have! and you are taking right after her!!! these pictures are AMAZING!
    My girls LOVe to do art too and I pretty much let them do whatever they want also!
    we used to have that same camera (film) and I LOVED it and am so sorry we sold it!!!
    these crafts are beautifuL! the book sounds pERFECT! tara

  6. I saw this tutorial the other day: and I really want to try it. I think Moira would enjoy the magic puffing.

  7. Expand your art collection to 3D stuff- paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, clean milk cartons, etc. It’s like Legos but not expensive.