How To Make A Toddler Art Box

Learn what materials to include in an

When your babies become toddlers, their need to explore gets bigger. One of the areas they will enjoy exploring is art. You can help your toddler with their artistic discoveries by supplying them with an "art box". This box (or tote, or any other container convenient for you) can be filled with age-appropriate art materials to help your child learn about colors, textures, and other artistic qualities in their world.

There are several things you can include in an art box.

Crayons

The most important thing to remember while toddlers learn to color is the crayons should fit their hands. For many toddlers, the traditional skinny crayons sold in most boxes are too small for their hands to maneuver. Make sure you start with the thick crayons. When your toddler gains the dexterity required to use the wider crayons correctly, you will be able to use regular crayons. It is also wise to purchase washable crayons. Although they are not guaranteed to come out of everything, they are easier to remove from most surfaces than traditional crayons.

Markers

Depending on your toddler's development and the level of mess that you are comfortable with, you can either choose washable markers or "invisible" markers. The latter appears to have no color at all, and when used on special paper, the color will appear. This means your table and walls will not show any color, even if the marker ends up there.

Paint

Again, depending on the level of mess that you are comfortable with, you may choose to include painting supplies in your toddler's art box. There are several different options, including "invisible" fingerpaints, which work much like markers of the same name - the fingerpaint color only shows up on special paper, not on your toddler's face, fingers, or clothes. Another option is washable paints, either for fingerpainting or brushing.

Be aware that watercolor is often difficult for toddlers because it is a process with three steps: dip the brush in the water, dip the brush in the paint, paint on the paper. Toddlers usually have to work their way up to doing watercolor painting..

Regardless of what kind of painting you attempt, your toddler should wear a paintshirt. You can also put newspaper around the painting area to protect tables and floors, but this is sometimes overkill.



Paper

A wide variety of papers are great to include in an art box, including coloring books. White paper is good, but be sure to mix it up a bit by changing the colors, weights, and textures of the papers - everything from cardstock to cardboard to vellum.

Stickers

Stickers are great to include, but be aware that stickers will require your involvement. A toddler's fingers aren't ready to peel the stickers from their original paper, but they love sticking them onto a new paper! An idea often used is to peel a few stickers and stick them on the edge of the table where you are working. Most toddlers will eventually be able to take the sticker from the edge of the table and stick it to the paper they are working on. It is also important to remember the bigger the sticker, the better. Small stickers are too difficult for little fingers to manage.

Scissors

Safety scissors, which are completely plastic (blade included) and intended for small children to use, are great to stick in an art box. Again, it depends on your toddler's development and interest in the art, but some toddlers find great enjoyment in learning how to cut. It's a process that takes a long time, and you should certainly not feel as though your child should be cutting flawlessly. Nevertheless, scissors are a good tool to have available so your child can experiment with them if he shows interest.

Play-Doh

Play-Doh is wonderful for teaching children to use their hands to create things. Be sure to include cookies cutters, safe cutting tools, cups, spoons, and various other tools to use with the Play-Doh.

Some toddlers feel the need to taste the Play-Doh. Assure them this is not what the Play-Doh is for. Although it won't harm them (both homemade Play-Doh and Play-Doh sold in stores is non-toxic) it generally doesn't taste very good. Some homemade recipes, however, include things like peanut butter or powdered sugar, so they actually do taste good. If you have a toddler who is very oral and can't stop eating the dough, it's best to not use these kinds of tasty recipes, as your toddler will not understand why they can't eat it.

Glue sticks

Much like scissors, glue sticks are more for exploring at this age, and your child might not understand how to really use them for some time. Some toddlers run the glue stick over a paper and then push their cotton ball or sequin onto a completely different place. This is normal. You can help this by purchasing a glue stick that glides on the paper showing a color, and which soon dries clear. This will give your toddler some idea of where it is sticky. Glue sticks are generally preferred over paste or bottles of glue at this age because of the obvious mess.

Various craft items

Toddlers enjoy working with many different textures and colors, so don't be afraid to include things such as yarn, scraps of tissue paper, cotton balls, glitter, felt, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, etc. A trip to your local craft store will undoubtedly give you many ideas for small additions to your art box.

It is important to remember that whatever your toddler has in his art box, art time needs to be supervised. Toddlers are certainly curious and have been known to bite off the tip of a marker or stick their hands in a bowl of washable paint. Art can be a fun time for both parents and kids and is a great excuse to get involved!

The intention of toddler art is to experience different materials. Adults must remember that what is created may not resemble anything. In fact, nothing may be created at all. A toddler may simply want to run his glue stick back and forth across his paper and never stick anything to it. A toddler may want to apply stickers to a picture over and over in the same spot until a pile of stickers is created. A toddler may choose to drive her cookie cutter through her Play-Doh until it is all over the floor. All of this is normal development. When you are in doubt, give your toddler the artistic tools - they will let you know what should be done!

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