Naturally drawn to hands-on exploration, early art activities are especially attractive to the toddler. This attraction encourages the gathering of important information through touch. As Dr. Montessori discovered, “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.”
The benefits to learning through art are many. To begin with, engaging in toddler art supports small motor skill development. Next, art activities enhance sensory learning. The child also learns to sequence and make choices. Most of all, the activity itself will reveal far more about the child’s abilities than the end product.
Following her interests, I prepared three art options — paint, stickers and sequins, and tissue paper to cover a glass jar — and placed each on our art cart. At first, she was drawn to the colorful tissue paper and its texture. Then realizing the activity included a glass jar, glue and a paint brush, she was delighted.
“We are going to work with all of these materials. Do you remember what we need to place on the work table first?” I walked toward the kitchen and said, “Here are the mats! Which color would you like to use today?” I offered her choices until the small table was prepared.
I sat beside her and asked, “May I take a turn to show you how this works?” She agreed. After presenting the activity, I asked her if she’d like to listen to Black Jack Baby by Elizabeth Mitchell (inspired by @the_nesting__mama 🙏) I observed as she:
1. tore the tissue paper into pieces
2. added glue to the small bowl
3. used the paint brush to apply the glue to the glass jar
4. selected each piece of torn paper
5. pressed the paper onto the wet glue.
She enjoyed the creative freedom to:
✨use as many colors as she’d like
✨tear the paper into any size
✨crumple the paper
✨place it anywhere on the glass jar
First, she moved the glue-coated paint brush across both the mat and up onto the jar. Next, she crumpled little pieces of paper, quickly realizing that they were sticking to the glue remnants on her fingers. After wiping her fingers, she added a few more pieces of paper to the jar and appeared satisfied. Together, we cleaned up the art activity and she headed to our work shelf.
When her mother arrived, she didn’t mention the jar that she had half decorated or ask to take it home. Instead, she left with all the new toddler art skills she had gained.