Open-Ended Art Experiences For Babies and Toddlers

Friend, I have something I have to tell you – It’s 210% bittersweet but the truth is, my days of raising babies & toddlers are over. I blinked and now my babies are big girls ages 12 and 10 (say what?!) So I’m happy to have a guest writer here today talking about what fun we can have with raising little ones 🙂

What type of art experiences are best for babies and toddlers? Babies and toddlers learn the most from “open-ended” experiences. What does open ended mean? An open ended art experience is a blank piece of paper or even just a paint color or feeling that can jump start your child’s imagination. Yes, a printable or “project” has it’s developmental assets but in the early years open ended art experiences will give your baby or toddler ownership of their learning because they are in charge of the ideas and concepts which will emotionally invest them and motivate them try again and again!

My favorite open ended art experiences for babies and toddlers
Hallway Art: This is perfect for toddlers who need to use their whole body to really get the most from a learning experience. Securely tape down a long piece of kraft paper offer a different dry medium about every three feet: crayons, tape, and chalk etc. You don’t need a hallway for this but it does help to keep them in one area of the house (so maybe your garage could work as well).

Don’t put the paper away when you are done though! After their nap or heading to the park come back to it and add a new layer of wet options. I like to squirt paint directly to the paper and say good bye to socks and shoes! Yes it’s messy but SO much fun – and more importantly when you engage all of their senses plus their whole body this is experiential learning at it’s best, the type of learning that is retained the best in the long run.

Sticky Art: I use clear sticky drawer liners or what teachers call contact paper for this. Find it at your local store’s household section and you have instant non-messy sticky art just perfect for babies and toddler alike. Use blue painters tape to attach it to the wall or to the floor depending on the child’s age. For younger babies I tape a small piece to their highchair tray. Then depending on the age and fine motor skills of the child provide a variety of items to stick on. I love tissue paper squares and confetti for the floor, but choices are endless (see my Pinterest Board for more ideas!). You could even go on a nature walk and bring home some grass and leaves to add. Sometimes the final product will be awesome and you can seal it shut with another piece of sticky paper and sometimes they will take everything off and on – its all about the process and experience in the end.

Sticky Art: I use clear sticky drawer liners or what teachers call contact paper for this. Find it at your local store’s household section and you have instant non-messy sticky art just perfect for babies and toddler alike. Use blue painters tape to attach it to the wall or to the floor depending on the child’s age. For younger babies I tape a small piece to their highchair tray. Then depending on the age and fine motor skills of the child provide a variety of items to stick on. I love tissue paper squares and confetti for the floor, but choices are endless (see my Pinterest Board for more ideas!). You could even go on a nature walk and bring home some grass and leaves to add. Sometimes the final product will be awesome and you can seal it shut with another piece of sticky paper and sometimes they will take everything off and on – its all about the process and experience in the end.

Happy playing!
– Stef

Stef Tousignant is the nanny from  AskaNanny.com – cut the trial and error of the first years with customized answers to all your baby and toddler questions. Actionable, confidential, parenting advice for your family. Email her your question at unravelme@askananny.com or find her on Facebook and Twitter #thenannyisin

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8 Comments

  1. Stasia wrote:

    Love the hallway art! Can’t way to give it a try!

    Posted 4.29.14 Reply
    • Sybil Brun wrote:

      Yayy fun stuff! Thanks for visiting! : )

      Posted 4.29.14 Reply
  2. Andrea wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this! I have a busy two year old who needs something constructive to do while we school. These ideas are fabulous. I especially like the idea of hallway art. Trying that TODAY! Thank you:)

    Posted 5.1.14 Reply
    • Sybil Brun wrote:

      I’m a homeschool mom too and can totally imagine what you have on your plate – so glad you found helpful ideas here! Thanks so much for sharing & let us know how it goes if you get a chance : )

      Posted 5.1.14 Reply
  3. Love the hallway art idea!

    Posted 5.1.14 Reply
    • Sybil Brun wrote:

      It is a big hit indeed! Thanks for visiting Starla!

      Posted 5.2.14 Reply
  4. Your banner paper reminds me of what we do for birthdays in our house! We make the birthday person a huge banner like that! So much fun.

    Thanks for sharing your amazing idea on our #artsyplay link up this week! We hope you come back for more fun next week!

    Posted 5.23.14 Reply