Painting with Toddlers

When introducing a new medium or technique to a child let them experiment with it first. In this example I introduced Cray Pas (Oil Pastels) and Water Color Crayons. I folded a piece of paper in half and had her color using the water color crayons on one side and the cray pas on the other side. I had her feel the surface of paper and asked her what she noticed (the cray pas are very waxy feeling.) We then added water to each picture (just plain water at first.) The water color crayon side began to act like water colors whereas the cray pas side did nothing. I then had her add water color paint to the cray pas side and we noticed how the paint filled in the spaces. Then I let her just experiment on her own with all the materials. I reminded her of a few painting basics as she played (if you paint in one spot too long while the paint is so wet it will make a hole in the paper, don't give the brush a "bad hair day" or don't scrub the brush so hard the bristols get all bent... At this stage introducing them to materials and techniques is the first step. They are learning by experimenting.

For younger children, help them experiment too. Basic things like dipping the brush in water and using the brush require a lot more guidance. This is one of Emme's (18 mos.) paintings. I turned the paper for her as she painted so she didn't paint in one spot. Also change out the paper when you notice it getting too wet. Emme didn't even miss a beat as I changed out her paper for a new one. Most children (18+) are very prolific. You may ask yourself what to do with all their paintings. Here are a few things we like to do: cut out the best sections and glue on to the front of a blank card, cut them up into pieces (after drying) and have child make a collage using their old paintings, cut into tags for presents, cut into letter shape and glue onto piece of construction paper...

Variations on a theme: You probably notice your child will draw the same picture over and over again. This is Lulu's Sun, Ocean, Sea Glass series. Notice the last picture she included a fairy. Although the pictures look alike, your child is refining them in the process. If you don't know what to do with all the artwork from your little Picasso's Blue period -- have older children act as the curator and choose the one they would like to hang up. This is a great way to get them talking about their art work. Why did they choose this one? What do they like about it? Other children who have difficulty choosing one may enjoy a revolving art show. Get a big magnetic bull clip and clip the series to it and hang on the fridge. When you or your child thinks about it place a different picture in front.

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