Did you know that March is Youth Art Month?
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and feel a little guilty that it’s coming so late in the month, but I wanted to include some really special ideas and products for you to try with your little one.
I am an artist, though I’ve devoted little time to my trade since becoming a mother. What I have done, and will probably look back on as a great accomplishment, is given my son lots of opportunities to experiment artistically. He loves to be creative and looks forward to our art time together. He routinely asks for dough, which is not sacred at our house, but rather played with on the coffee table in our living room, right on top of my favorite rug.
We started creating art when Charlie was around 8 months old. Here he is with a piece of clay. He squeezed it with his little chubby fingers, and wadded it up when I rolled it out with a rolling pin, and became very frustrated with me when I tried to help him create “something” from it. This art project helped me to understand that when working with small children and art, it isn’t about the finished project, rather the art of exploring the process. (And, yes, if you’re wondering, he did try to eat it.)
You can find recipes online to make your own dough, but as soon as your child is past the oral stage, I highly recommend Fun Dough by Rose Art. Fun Dough is great because it comes in lots of bright colors, which children love. I also love that Fun Dough includes tops that double as easy to use molds.
Later we started experimenting with crayons. Here he is at 9 months coloring a fish – actually he’s playing with the crayon box which turned out to be much more interesting, but we were trying and he was happy. I later learned that Jumbo Crayons by Crayola are the easiest for his tiny hands.
Another product that we really enjoyed well under the age of one was sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk is a great outdoor art project to experiment with starting at around 8 months, though be prepared for them to try and eat the chalk. This is still an outdoor activity that Charlie adores.
When Charlie was around a year old he became obsessed with sticker art. It was his absolute favorite activity for a very long time. Stickers are great because they are portable and make a great art activity for a restaurant or anywhere that you need a few minutes of quiet. Melissa & Doug make great stickers in a wide range of themes.
At around 15 months Charlie really fell in love with art. His art box, which was readily available, was filed with crayons, stickers and coloring books, and was his favorite independent activity. This gave me the opportunity to experiment even more with him when we were working with art one-on-one. Here he is enjoying watercolor paints. We use the Oval Pan Watercolor Set by Prang because they are semi-moist which makes painting with a toddler much easier, though I still give him a small dish with a very small amount of water.
Charlie is now almost 20 months old and as you can see, much more focused in his art. Here he is painting Toy Story art with both poster and watercolor paint.
We also recently experimented with Do A Dot Art which I learned about on the wonderfully informative blog The Artful Parent. Charlie thoroughly enjoyed it and I found it to be a very easy project to do with a young toddler.
I hope you are inspired to get out there and start creating with your little one. Art supplies are available everywhere, they are inexpensive, and they are a great way to connect with your child. So get out there and be creative!