Choosing the Right Art Activity for Toddlers: Fun & Engaging Developmental Experiences

choosing the right art activity for toddlers: fun & engaging developmental experiences

Do you have a toddler, or do you work with a toddler or early preschooler?

Do you struggle to keep their interest at the art table for longer than it takes to set up the materials?

I’ve definitely been there, and the short attention span can feel frustrating.

Creativity can look very different at each developmental stage.

What we might see as lack of engagement in young children is really just a mismatch between projects and the child’s developmental stage.

The good news is there are some simple ways to shift this story away from frustration and towards more focus, enthusiasm, and engagement.

Come in close if you have a toddler or early preschooler…

👉 Sensory Play

Toddlers are still learning about their environment through their hands and bodies, so focus on touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Introduce finger painting, clay squishing, scribbling, and water pouring. 

👉Full Body Movements

Toddlers have LOTS of energy. Have a dance party or lay out a huge piece of paper on the floor for them to lay down on and scribble all over.

👉Music Making

Music helps toddlers to develop new neural pathways, making their brains bigger & stronger. Fill homemade paper tube shakers with dry beans for a noisy music session. 

👉Simple Projects

It’s no secret that toddlers are not big fans of sitting in one place for any stretch of time. Choose projects that will take about 5-20 minutes max. Remind yourself it’s normal if they lose interest quickly. 

👉Experiments & Risk Taking

Toddlers love to try new things and push the boundaries of what they already know. If they are already confident with playdough, introduce another material into the mix, like popsicle sticks, for them to experiment with. 

👉Process Over Product

Toddlers live in the moment.

They enjoy making art for art’s sake, simply because they find it fun and engaging.

They are present-oriented explorers who are trying to figure out how things work.

In short, they are more connected with the now than the future and will be less motivated by projects that have a specific outcome.

Keeping this in mind, my best tip is to avoid cookie-cutter art projects that have an expected adult-driven outcome.

Now is the perfect time to nurture a “process over product” mindset.

Make sure to congratulate your toddler on their curiosity, thought process, and active making, rather than celebrating the final product.

The most important way to encourage creativity in toddlers is to stand back and let them explore, experiment, and, yes, probably get a little messy.

By letting them lead the way, we give toddlers space to be independent, autonomous, and imaginative – traits that will last a lifetime.

I made you a downloadable checklist to help you plan engaging and successful art projects…

Developmental Experiences that are fun and engaging for Toddlers

To simplify the process for you, download and print the checklist, a free tool to help you make the most of toddler art time…

⤵️Choosing the Right Art Activity for Toddlers Checklist

choosing the right art activity for toddlers: fun & engaging developmental experiences