When’s the last time someone invited you to do something with them? “Would you join me?” That’s a powerful phrase, right there, for sure. There’s something about an open invitation that brings out the best in people, especially in toddlers. An invitation to a toddler means that you, as the parent, place no expectations on the finished result. It’s all about the process, not the end product. I’ll let you in on a secret though; it’s often those process-driven projects that end up with the most meaningful and beautiful products!
That’s why I recently broke out the paint sticks, a few toys, and canvas boards and gave an invitation to paint. The handsome toddlers in question are my son and my nephew. They’re best buds, and they had so much fun creating and painting together! I set out the materials for this simple toddler painting project, put some music on, and just let them get to work.
Here’s what you need to know to try this with your own kids.
Canvas board (We used 8 x 10 inches. I think a ginormous canvas board would look epic hanging in your kid’s room or family room!)
Paint sticks (Do-a-dot Paint Sticks are a classic, and so versatile!)
Baby wipes, lots of baby wipes!
My goal for this painting project was to give them a wide open invitation to create. I didn’t make them paint inside the lines, we weren’t stressed out about trying to make it look a certain way. It was more about enjoying the process of being creative. I could take a lesson from the boys the next time I paint! We tend to get uptight when it comes to what we create, but what really matters is the creativity itself. What I really enjoyed was seeing them assign meaning to what they created through painting. I’ll tell you more about that later, though. First let’s take a look at how their paintings got started.
- Set up a creation space for your toddlers. Hint: choose a surface that can easily be wiped down. I know this from, ahem, personal experience.
- Provide canvas boards, paint sticks, and assorted toys.
- Create a relaxed atmosphere with some fun music.
Invite your kids to create without limits. What would it look like if I rolled my truck on the canvas? What happens when I make a long row of dots? What about when I make big sweeping motions with my paint stick? Of course with toddlers, they probably won’t be saying these things out loud. But, they will be thinking them. And that’s just huge for developing creativity!
Remember when I said that this project was all about unleashing creativity? These boys have creativity in spades. It was amazing to see them point at their paintings and say “That’s a giraffe, mommy!” or “Rawrr, dinosaur!” In fact, that’s what we named the artworks: “The Colorful Giraffe” and “The Green Dinosaur.” Can you find the blue giraffe and green dinosaur in their paintings?
This toddler painting project would be so easy to set up for a Make it Monday. If you create these on canvas board, they also make colorful wall art!
Painting with toddlers doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. Let me know how your kiddos responded to this invitation to paint!