From a very young age, I have been encouraging my kiddos to be creative and artistic. To some parents, all they think of when they hear painting with toddlers is messy messy messy! Now I am not going to try to convince you otherwise… I do not have a secret that will make this art process magically unmessy. However, I have a few tips for you to help make the best out of it every single time!
Painting with Toddlers
I love painting with my toddler. From creating fun handprint art to getting messy with a creative painting project, it’s amazing to watch the look on my little girl’s face while she experiments. I know that, while messy, this process is teaching her so much! She’s learning about mixing colors, working on her fine motor skills, building her creativity, and more! There is no way to make painting with toddlers easy, but there are a few ways to make it less stressful. So here are some tips to help you enjoy the process.
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Getting your area ready to create with young children
Start by lining your table with packing paper, newspaper, or even a broken down box. Honestly, when you paint with toddlers their brush rarely stays on a piece of paper or what you are planning to paint. Make sure to tape it down! It isn’t going to magically stay where you want it, trust me on this one. Invest in a huge roll of painter’s tape. It works great for this. You can also use it to tape down their projects and paint pallet!
We will touch more on that in a bit. Last, but not least, a painter’s smock. You can buy them at the store or whip up an easy one at home! (Here is a link to our no-sew version)
Keep your toddler engaged:
Have you ever set up a painting project for your toddler only to have them paint for one minute and be done? All that setup and mess for nothing! This has happened to me too so here are a couple of tips to try to keep them engaged longer. First, give them random shapes to paint! Our recyclables are the first place I look at. We use egg cartons, butter boxes, tp rolls, and more! The different shapes pose different challenges for them to paint. Use some painter’s tape to stick them to the table. It’s easy for a toddler to get frustrated with painting if the object keeps scooting away from them!
If they seem to be getting bored with that, ditch the brush! A brush can be hard for a toddler to maneuver so if their vision isn’t happening they can lose interest fast. Luckily there are plenty of other things around the house you can use, including their fingers! Check out some of our favorite things to grab here. Another good tip is to let them use the whole space. Take your finger, dip it in the paint, and wipe it across the whole table. Show them that the whole space is for them to create. Let them stamp, paint, and smear the whole area.
Paint mixing 101:
Now you won’t probably be framing this piece of art. This is set up as an invitation to play. That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to keep them engaged by having some bright colors! So when placing out the paint I always ask my toddler what color do they want. Just one. Then I add a few complementary colors to the pallet. (Reminder- we tape it down!) We have a great idea if you want to keep your paint fresh here. Or you can just grab a leftover butter tub lid.
Good combo example: red, blue, and white. Once all mixed together you will have a light purple. Bad combo: blue, orange, yellow. That will turn a nasty brown color… not too inspiring. The colors will be all mixed together so fast that there is no point to try to keep them separate.
A Few Final Tips for Painting with 1 and 2-year-olds:
Turn on some tunes! We always like to play some music. Whether it is toddler sing-along songs or salsa it just makes it so much more fun!
Keep a few wet paper towels or wet wipes within reach to quickly swipe up anything that hits the floor.
Make sure you have washable paint.
Finally, join in the fun!!
I really hope you take the time for painting with your toddler. It will surely be a memorable experience!
Wait there’s MORE! Here are some fun things around the house to add next time you are painting with your toddler!