Setting Up The Toddler Art Environment - by a Montessori Art Teacher
Beautiful (and real) Montessori Playrooms

Notes on Montessori Toddler Art: Watercolour Play + Fly Swat Art

Montessori toddler learning colours at How we Montessori  water colour play  Otto 21 months

Following Spramani's series on Montessori toddler art I've been focusing on the skills my toddler is developing during his art experiences. We can focus on the process, not the product. What is my child learning or achieving during the process? I'm observing:

  • What does he enjoy?
  • What skills is he working on?
  • What are his hands and arms doing?
  • What is he most focused on?
  • How can I further assist his experience?
  • What can we do next to meet his developing needs?

I have all three children (1,8 and 11yrs) home during the summer break (it's only the first Monday) and I've been setting up a paint experience on the child-size table outside every day. Here are two activities we've done so far that all three children have loved!!

Water Colour Play

How: Provide diluted watercolour paints for the child to pour, mix and explore. Read more here

Where: Outside or in a 'wet' area, child-size table.

Purpose:

  • Colour theory - mixing colours.
  • Free play.
  • Developing concentration and focus.
  • Developing strength and coordination in fingers, hands and arms.
  • Hand-eye coordination.

Skills:

  • Fine and Gross Motor Skills.
  • Pouring and scooping.
  • Pipetting.
  • Squeezing.

Materials:

  • Liquid watercolours - heavily diluted.
  • White trays - also this Ikea lid.
  • Clear Squeeze Sauce Bottles 8oz/200ml.
  • Pipettes.
  • Spoons - for toddlers try to keep some aside for art, don't use your 'kitchen' spoons.
  • Recycled plastic (fruit) containers.
  • White watercolour paper.
  • 'Art clothes' or smock.

(This is what we used but could be adapted to what you have at home)

Montessori toddler water colour play at How we Montessori  Otto 21 months

I put out all of the materials and let the children explore. Otto loves using the squeeze bottles and likes to pour and spoon, so this is a good activity for him. 

Yes, it all turned purple in the end!! What made this such a great experience was all three children working/playing/exploring together. Otto and I have used this same set up before but it was much more enjoyable for Otto when doing it with his brothers. Perhaps this is a good idea for a (messy) playgroup or playdate?

Otto having too much fun at How we Montessori fly swat painting 21 months*

Fly Swat Art

How: Provide blobs of paint for the child to splat with the fly swat.

Where: Outside or in a 'wet' area, child-size stable table.

Purpose:

  • Sensory experience.
  • Some colour theory.
  • Free play.
  • Creativity/self-expression.
  • Developing concentration and focus.
  • Developing strength and coordination in fingers, hands and arms.
  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Exploration of paint as an art medium.

Skills:

  • Fine and Gross Motor Skills.
  • Swatting.

Materials:

  • Acrylic or poster paint - we use the UK tts brand
  • Fly Swats.
  • White watercolour paper - this is thicker than most papers and will hold up to activities with more wet paint, A3 size.
  • 'Art clothes' or smock.
  • Safety Glasses - may be useful. 

(This is what we used but could be adapted to what you have at home)

Montessori toddler art experiences at How we Montessori   Otto 21 months

Again, I put out the materials and left it for the children to explore. The paint is lovely and squishy and the fly swat leaves an interesting pattern. Otto did some finger painting in the end. This was also more fun with all three children participating. If was going to use this artwork for display, for gift-giving or as wrapping paper I would use less paint. Have the bath ready for when they are finished!

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