You don't need to be a certified art teacher to help your child learn arts and crafts - but a few art classes won't hurt! The most important thing to remember when you teach arts and crafts to your toddler is that young children are naturally creative. Toddlers love to do arts and crafts, especially projects they can do on their own. Make sure you keep projects simple so that your child has fun instead of experiencing frustration.
- Picking an arts and crafts project for your toddler: Toddlers are naturally curious and enjoy trying new things. The art projects that young children enjoy the most are usually tactile and messy. In addition, think about your toddler's interests and pick crafts that are themed appropriately. For example, use play dough or modeling clay to make figures of your child's favorite animals. If your toddler loves fire trucks, use paper to make fireman's hats or use a shoebox to build a fire truck model.
- Set up ahead of time: Since toddlers have limited attention spans, gather all of your supplies before you bring your child to the craft table. This will help the project proceed in a timely fashion and keep the excitement level high--nothing kills an art project like searching for the scissors or tape in the middle.
- Don't worry about messes: Set up a space where your toddler can get messy. Whether that means doing the project in your playroom--or your garage or backyard--you want to give your child freedom from worry about spills and drips. Cover your work surface with newspaper, dropcloths or plastic table covers. Then, let her make broad strokes, splash paint and drop the glue. Life is too short to stifle her creative expression with constant admonitions about cleanliness during crafts projects.
- Supply ideas, but allow free form crafting: When you start a craft project with your toddler, it is a good idea to have a suggested project. For example, tell your son you are going to make caterpillars out of egg carton sections and pipe cleaners. However, if he decides he would rather make a spider--or Spiderman--with the same materials, by all means encourage him to do so. He will get more out of building his own creations than from following a strict model. And, don't worry when his bunny rabbit is covered with googly eyes instead of fur!
- Edible crafts are fun: All arts and crafts projects are great, but toddlers especially love things they can eat. Get your kids to help you decorate cookies or cupcakes. Make finger paintings with instant chocolate pudding instead of paint. Create jewelry by stringing Froot Loops or Cheerios onto string and then munch off your bracelets.
- Have fun: Whatever arts and crafts you do with your toddler, remember to have fun!
Now that you have a few basic projects under your belt, you can plan even more great projects with your toddler by applying what you've learned in your online arts courses!