My boys love to paint but being as they are both toddlers (well, I suppose Cohen can now be classified as a Preschooler. Oh my.), I had to find an easy way to let them be creative without so much cleanup afterwards..
These are my tips to providing fun, independent and creative painting fun for toddlers:
The most important thing to consider when painting with your toddler (or really, a young child of any age) is to find safe and waterproof paints! My boys seem to always get the paints all over the place; on their skin, the table, their clothes and hair… So knowing that the paint they are using is non-toxic and natural as well as easily washed off helps me to enjoy their painting experience right along with them! (My favorites are Clementine Art paints)
I also have ice cube trays that I use to keep the paints close and separated for the boys. They enjoy their own little paint trays and I enjoy that the trays keep the mess at a minimum! Cohen does, however, enjoy mixing all his colors together but I just let him do what he wants with his own paints because, again, I am trying to encourage them both to be creative and try new things! At first when he’s mixing them, he can see that red and yellow mix together to make orange and so on.. After a while, they all start to turn brown and black but this is a good lesson as well!
Another tip I have is to take a couple of small pieces of tape and tape their papers in one spot on the tablecloth.. Cohen is usually pretty good at keeping his paper in one place but Eli has trouble painting and having the paper sliding around. The tape is also handy for taping outside to dry so the wind doesn’t carry them away!
I also picked up these cute toddler-sized paintbrushes from my local dollar store. They are stubby and rounded at the end to help with grasping. Eli drops the skinny ones because they slip right out of his fingers so these new red ones are perfect for him! (I have also seen texture brushes similar to these that I want to get!)
When I pull out the paints, I can count on at least a solid 30-45 minutes of painting time with my boys. They love the chance to play with messy materials and I love that with all the tips I use above, it really is not that messy! I spend less than 5 minutes cleaning up everything after they’re done and that’s it. To me, that’s a huge success!
They love the creative outlet and I enjoy watching them teach themselves different painting techniques and color combinations each time! Sometimes, Eli will ask me to help him paint a certain animal (or whatever he’s wanting to see) but I really try to encourage him to try for himself. He can get a little frustrated at times because he knows he can’t really paint objects yet but I talk him through it and let him know that he can paint anything on the page and have it be whatever he wants! He loves this. Once he remembers this, he tells me all sorts of things that he paints (which, of course, just look like blobs but kudos to creativity!)!
So rest assured parents, it really is possible to let your toddlers play with paints and have there be very minimal cleanup! Lots of creativity for them and little work for you. Score!