Art benefits young children’s development in many ways. It teaches children to be creative, to follow directions, to focus on an activity, to cut with scissors, to count and sort (which are early math skills), and to learn about shapes and colors. These are important skills children need when they start kindergarten.
Doing art with your child doesn’t have to be complicated. And there’s no right or wrong way to be creative. The most important thing is for children to have fun. Start with these easy-to-do engaging art activities for toddlers and preschoolers. To make clean up easier, lay down bags or newspapers or have your child wear an old adult t-shirt.
You will need glue, string or yarn in different lengths and colors, paper, and scissors.
- Have your child draw a picture by squeezing white glue onto paper.
- Have your child finish the picture by pressing bits of string on the glue. Your child can glue down other objects, too.
- Ask your child to make up a story about the picture.
Paper Bag Puppet
You will need a small paper bag and crayons.
- Have your child color the paper bag.
- Then have your child draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth on the bottom part of the bag.
- Ask if your child wants to name the puppet.
- Show your child how putting your hand in the bag makes the puppet talk.
- Use the puppet to tell stories or read books.
- Make another puppet so they can talk to each other.
You will need an egg carton, crayons, paper scraps and glue.
- Explain that your child will be making a special treasure box.
- Have your child decorate the egg carton. Your child can color it and paste paper scraps or pictures on it.
- Count the number of cups in the carton together. Let your child decide what treasures to put in each up, such as rocks or small toys.
- Let your child sort the treasures by color or size.
You will need a small jar of non-toxic washable liquid paint, paper plate, paper, and crayons.
- Spread a thin layer of paint on the paper plate.
- Show your child how to touch the paint with a thumb or finger.
- Then press on the paper to make thumb prints or finger prints.
- After the paint dries, have your child draw with crayons around each print. He or she can add faces, legs, arms and wings to make people, animals, insects, or flowers.
- Wash up!
More art activities and resources:
- Find free art classes at the First 5 Centers.
- PBS Kids: Early Art – What it Means and How to Encourage It.
- Zero to Three: What You Can Do to Encourage Art and Writing Skills.