Montessori art teacher and teacher trainer Spramani Elaun joins us again today to discuss the best art materials for toddlers. I love lists like this as it helps me to reassess the materials we have at home and it gives me ideas on materials to introduce in the future. Spramani also has her own line of art materials which you can view here. There are so many options. I hope you enjoy!
Trying to control toddlers can be a challenge—to say the least. I have two kids (both grown now) and I remember those toddler years...they were filled with excitement, but so tiring! It’s amazing how much energy a tiny toddler has!
One of the ways I was able to get my children to settle down and give me a little peace and quiet was through art. I’ve been working in the art industry for about three decades now, so introducing art into my children’s world was a no-brainer for me. In fact, a few years into homeschooling, teaching just my children art morphed into teaching all the children in our homeschool network (it eventually turned into a full blown business). I’d set up art events for our little group and watch them all have so much fun while developing their minds, creativity, and imaginations!
Almost every time I was wrapping up an art event, I’d have parents come to me in complete shock that I was actually able to teach their toddlers about art! I think they were always more shocked that their children were captivated and fascinated enough to slow down and really get into their art creation.
The truth is, toddlers don’t really learn art, but exposing them to art, colors, and creative experimentation can give them confidence and inspire their imaginations. It’s something that will always hold their attention, no matter how many times they get to create.
When it comes to art for toddlers, the most important thing is giving them with the right art materials and art mediums to spark their creativity. I want to share some really good materials that are perfect for little ones and easy for you to set up for spontaneous art activities.
Choosing the Best Art Materials for Toddlers
As a homeschool mommy I know how important it is to have easy art materials ready to go to keep kids busy. I really have only two criteria for choosing the best art supplies for toddlers.
- One, they must be safe, kid-friendly, and non-toxic.
- Two, they must be easy to find.
The right art materials will help your child explore and discover in a process-based way, which is the best way for a little artist. (For more info on what “process-based” art actually is and how to teach it, check out this blog post.) For the most part, you can teach toddlers art by learning through doing; you’re not focusing on the outcome or final product, but rather on the experience of creating the art itself.
Whenever I teach toddlers, I like to break down visual art into 5 areas: painting, drawing, clay play, crafting, and building.
Below are the art supplies I recommend the most for toddlers.
Being ready and gathering the right art supplies ahead of time will help you keep your little artist busy creating on a regular basis.
- Dry and liquid paint (make sure these are safe, non-toxic, and child-grade/kid-friendly)
- Tempera paint sticks
- Dot Stampers
- Paint brushes (different sizes)
- Cups, bowls, or palettes (for holding paint)
- Crayons (in different sizes and shapes)
- Colored pencils (jumbo sized are easier for toddlers to grip)
- Graphite pencils (jumbo sized are easier for toddlers to grip)
- Tri-colored tip color pencils
- Homemade playdough (made with flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, vegetable or coconut oil, essential oils, and food coloring)
- Non-hardening plasticine clay
- Earth pottery air dry clay
- Rollers, cookie cutters, stamps, wood shapes
- Safety scissors
- Colorful paper
- Glue sticks
- Wood blocks and shapes
- Large Lego-type building blocks
Smock, apron, or large t-shirt (to avoid dirtied or stained clothes)
How to Use Art Materials with Toddlers
Keeping these art supplies ready to go will help you set-up and stage opening and inviting art making sessions every week. I like to keep an art shelf stocked with all my material. I also use baskets and plastic bins to store art material away from children when they’re not being used.
I recommend alternating art “themes.” For instance, start with painting one week; let your child play with watercolor paints one day, then dry paint the next, and on the following day you can introduce sponges or dot stampers. Then the next week, allow them to explore drawing, and give them new drawing art materials to play with each day.
Toddlers need a lot of time to process and play with each different art material in order to really understand how they work and what they can create. I definitely recommend sticking to one theme each week; it gives young children the time they need to learn an idea. Plus, it will cut back on any chance that your child will become overstimulated or overwhelmed.
Only working within one area a week also makes things easier on you! If you’re focusing on clay this week, you can keep paint, drawing, building, and crafting supplies put away and out of sight until they’re needed. That means only setting up the clay supplies once, at the beginning of the week, instead of bringing out whole new materials every single day.
Once you’ve allowed your toddler to explore each area of visual art (drawing, painting, clay sculpting, crafting, and building), you can make the next round of discovery fresh and exciting by using story books as inspiration. Use the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar for example: read them the book, let them soak up the beautiful artwork, and then encourage them to create their own caterpillar out of clay. Or, if your child is exploring painting, ask them to paint a big green leaf, using different shades and colors of green, for the hungry caterpillar to eat.
Teaching art to toddlers can be so much fun! As a parent, it’s exciting to see them light up as they explore different mediums and grow in their confidence and creativity. As a child, it’s a chance to jump into a whole new world of color and experiences. And it all starts with the right art materials!
If you more information about what your toddler is capable of learning about art and ideas to help them explore, sign up for my Montessori Art newsletter! I post different art lessons that are perfect for young children, and share insights on how to develop their artistic skills and literacy. You can sign up for my newsletter, by visiting Montessori-Art.com.
Spramani Elaun trains Montessori teachers and parents Internationally how to teach kids art. Spramani is also a mom of two, author, artist and the founder of Nature of Art® Art School & Online Art Supply company from San Diego, California. Visit Nature of Art® @ www.Montessori-Art.com