9 Tips For Finger Painting With Your Toddler

finger painting for toddlers Of all the questions I get one of the most common is “How do you deal with the mess?” This is often followed by “I just can’t do messy stuff with my kids.”  If messy things really honestly upsets you I am here to tell you that it’s not worth the upset. If you will spend the whole time cleaning up after them, telling them to not do this or that it’s not worth it as an activity at your house. That’s OK. We all have our limits and not allowing messy art in your house doesn’t make you a bad parent.

If you are just nervous but eager to try it than these tips are for you. Over the years these have been my go to ways to make messy art like finger painting a wonderfully creative experience for my kids without me budding in every two minutes with a wipe interrupting their play. When we break up their play with wipes and cleaning up under them what we are saying is ” What you are doing is wrong, let me fix that.” or ” This is annoying me, let me make it right.” Sure this won’t register with every kid but most pick up on it and by nature most children want to please us. If we are going to let them be creative we need to find ways to make it work for all of us so we aren’t stepping in constantly.

These tips will help! These are old pictures of my now four and a half year old daughter, she was just under two when we did this activity.

finger painting with toddlers

1. If possible strap them in. If you use a booster seat for meals use that same chair for the activity. When their hands are covered in paint you don’t want them free to roam. If this isn’t an option position yourself so that you are between them and the area you do not want them to reach until their hands are clean. For us that’s the family room ( specifically the new couch)  only a few feet away from the kitchen where we were creating.

2. Tape their paper to a cutting board, or right to the table if the table is easily washable. This prevents the picture covered in paint from hitting the floor and other things on the way down. toddler finger painting tips to avoid mess

3. Dress your child in old clothes/ Pajamas. Little toddlers and smocks don’t really make a great pair. Avoid the dramatics and just let them wear something that you don’t care if it’s stained.

4. Use an old table cloth to protect your table. If you need to protect your floors try a shower curtain under your child’s chair.  happy tips for toddler finger painting

5. Give them control and let them have small dishes of paint to explore with. Toddlers are on the verge of a lot of new independence and giving them some control during activities is a great way to support this development. You don’t need to direct this activity at all!

6. Have extra paper ( and anything else you are using) on hand so you don’t have to leave them unattended for a second. tips for finger painting

7. Have wipes or a wet wash cloth, and a towel ready. Also don’t unbuckle the booster until after they are all the way clean.

8. If they are super messy my favorite trick is to have a big old bath towel ready and wrap them up in it, and go directly to the bath. toddler finger painting

9. After the painting is dry display it with pride! This seems obvious but it’s really important. Children need to their their art to complete the process. They are artists and should be proud of their work!

 

 

Need a great finger paint recipe? Try this one that your child can help make with you in the kitchen! Click on the image to find out how to make it.

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Easy Painting Activities For Toddlers

art ideas for toddlers I was digging through my own archives the other night as I was lesson planning for my preschool class and found a bunch of posts I’d forgotten about. I found exactly what I needed for my lesson plans and decided to share some of what I found with you as well. These easy painting activities for toddlers are all great for children who are just starting to explore with art. They are open ended, easy to do with one or 10 kids, and let children explore. For more art ideas for toddlers ( and big kids) make sure you are following us on Pinterest and Facebook! 

Do you have a favorite art activity to do with toddlers? Link it up or tell me about it in comments. My children aren’t toddlers anymore but I am always looking for new ideas for my classroom.

art activities for toddlers

Cork Printing
Fly Swatter Painting
Baby Block Painting
Painting with Bugs

toddler painting activities for daycare
Sponge Painting
Pumpkin Printing
Letter Cookie Cutter Printing
Bath Poof Painting

easy painting ideas for toddlers
Splat Painting
Toy Track Painting
Cookie Cutter Prints
Garden Vegetable Printing

toddler printing and painting ideas for preschool
Pot Scrubber Painting
Rubber Duckie Printing
Feather Painting
Painting With Water

painting ideas for young toddlers
Animal Track Paintings
Glass Sponge Painting 
Potato Masher Painting
Painting With Sound

Easy Thanksgiving Crafts For Toddlers {and tips for parents too}

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easy toddler crafts for thanksgThanksgiving is on Thursday but it’s not too late to plan some fun and easy Thanksgiving crafts for your toddler. These activities were all done with my kids when they were toddlers ( 18 months – 3 years old)  but have been repeated when they were older so rest assured that older siblings will love to join in on these easy Thanksgiving activities too. Check out our tips below to make these crafts even easier and more successful with your children.

toddler turkey

Toddler Turkey Craft

This post is filled with advice for crafting with toddlers from accepting mess aversion to choosing good tools like plastic plates but this is my favorite –>

Tip: If your child uses a booster for meals pop them in it when you are doing messy art too. This will relax you so you can both enjoy creating without worrying about Jr. running for the living room covered in red paint.

bubble wrap corn craft for thanksgiving

Bubble Wrap Corn.

Explore the texture of the bubble wrap and have fun with this easy activity. Be prepared for aversion too. My son hated it the first time so we rolled with it . Later we followed this favorite tip for success.

Tip: wrap the bubble wrap around a rolling pin for easy printing.

toddler craft for thanksgiving

Turkey Sun Catcher

Use glitter glue for a lower mess glitter craft.

Tip : Use baby wipes for messy hands if a sink isn’t right there. They have saved use from many big messes.

pumpkin-painting-for-toddlers

Mini Pumpkin Prints

We use mini pumpkins as decorations throughout the fall. A few days before Thanksgiving cut one open and paint with it.

Tip: For kids that aren’t keen on wearing smocks find a few tee shirts at a garage sale that you don’t care if it’s stained forever and wear those on painting days.

3d turkey craft

3D Handprint Turkey

This has never been our most popular Thanksgiving craft but my kids loved making it so I love sharing it.

Tip: When doing handprint crafts with toddlers that call for multiple hand cut outs layer multiple papers under tracing and cut instead of tracing their hands multiple times.

acorn craft for toddlers

Torn Acorn Craft

If you aren’t ready to hand your child scissors yet this activity is great. Tearing paper still builds hand muscles that are required for later scissor and handwriting skills.

Tip : Pre-cut strips of paper that are manageable for little hands.

thanksgiving sensory tub

Thanksgiving Sensory Tub

Mess is hard for a lot of parents. I get it because I try to keep my house in order too and kids have a way of following behind us and messing up what was just cleaned. Sensory play is so valuable for kids as they explore cause and effect, measurement, imaginative play, and more.

Tip : If your child is prone to dumping sensory materials have them sit on a carpeted floor. The materials won’t scatter as far ( or be as much fun to dump) and will be easy to vacuum up.

messy art for toddlers

Turkey Baster Painting

Painting with turkey basters is fun and squeezing the bulb is actually great for hand strength too. Yes it’s messy but the post is filled with tips to minimize it including –>

Tip : When painting with tools like a turkey baster after painting pop the kid and the tool into the bath and let them get clean together. After the bulk of the paint it off in the bath you can put the tool into the dishwasher for a final clean.

thanksgiving thankful activity for toddlers

Thankful Box

Toddlers may not be able to read and write yet but they can express likes and dislikes. Use a thankful box to teach them to show appreciation for those things they like by modeling.

Tip : When teaching abstract concepts like being thankful to toddlers including a concrete activity like making the box or decorating a jar for the tokens of appreciation to be kept in can create a connection that simple talking about being thankful may not.

corn craft

Confetti Corn Craft

This post is a perfect example about being flexible with toddlers. My son who was 3 at the time wanted to include his construction vehicles in the play. With a a few simple additions I was able to include them in and the craft took on an element of imaginative play too.

Tip : Be flexible and let your toddler have some control over their creation.

 

What is your best tip for crafting with toddlers?

 

Painting with Cookie Cutters

abc activityWith summer around the corner I usually shift from more involved activities to simpler ones . We used these alphabet cookie cutters for a playdough activity ages ago and they were the perfect tool for this painting activity.  I loved how amazed my daughter was every time she lifted the cookie cutter up to reveal the letter below. This is such an easy way to play with letters. There is no structure just colors, tools and exploration. This post is part of our Alphabet For Starters series. A series of posts that introduce and play with letters.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, plates, alphabet cookie cutters ( or any shape really you don’t have to do the alphabet) and some paper.
  2. If you want to extend the activity a little take some time to mix colors with the paint. We used different colors and added white paint with each . My daughter called them ice cream colors. I have to agree! There are no pictures of us mixing the colors because her mixing got rather exuberant . Remember to have a wet cloth on hand so you don’t have to stash the toddler covered in paint under your arm while running to get one like I did.abc painting mixing
  3. Spread the paint on the paper plates, lay your paper down and go for it!abc painting colors
  4. She had a blast and it’s such a natural activity for letter recognition. You don’t even have to prompt your child if they are at all familiar with letters they will likely announce which they are using.  If not feel free to say things like ” Look you made an orange H ! Cool! ” but keep it light. I have no clue why her foot is on the window ledge but I am rather in awe of her flexibility.abc painting with letter cookie cutters
  5. Keep going and if your paper is large rotate it for more room to stamp.abc letter painting
  6. Let dry and display. Try to always display your children’s creations even if you only hang them up for a short while. Let them feel pride in their accomplishments.

Awesome ABC Books 

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

alphabeep

Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list.

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10 Outdoor Activities For Toddlers

outside activities for kids We have been living outside lately and unless it starts really raining I am not sure the playroom will getting many visitors. Here are some of our old favorite toddler activities that my 2 year old and I have been re-visiting over the last few weeks. I hope you find something on this list to turn into an old favorite !

Color & Clean Car Wash
Sound Safari For Toddlers
Fly Swatter Painting
Sidewalk Chalk Games
Play In The Dirt
Painting With Nature
Gardening For Letters
Painting With Water
Backyard Car Wash
Color Hunt On The Go