“Movement of the hand is essential. Little children revealed that the development of the mind is stimulated by the movement of the hands. The hand is the instrument of the intelligence. The child needs to manipulate objects and to gain experience by touching and handling. ” ~ Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures

Because children are naturally drawn to hands-on exploration, art activities can be 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.”

Toddler Art Benefits

The benefits of learning through art are many. To begin with, art supports the toddler’s small motor skill development and enhances their sensory learning. The child also learns to sequence and make choices. But for the adult observer, it’s the activity itself that will reveal far more about the child’s abilities than the end product.

Following The Child and Their Interests

Prepare art activities intended to meet the child’s interests and abilities. In this example, three art options are prepared for an older toddler.

The Activity: Decorate a Jar (age 2-4 years)


🍶Small clear jar

🎨paint and and 🖌paint brush

📊stickers and 💎sequins

📜tissue paper and 🧴glue

Along with art materials, offer two-three placemat color options.

Limited, but attractive, choices are best to engage the child’s interest without overwhelming them.

Introducing The Activity

“We are going to decorate a jar with these art materials today. Do you remember what we need to place on the work table first?”

Stand near the materials and offer the child guidance, e.g., “Here are the table mats! Which color would you like to use today?”

Next, offer choices to the child as they begin making their material selections from the prepared options … “Would you like to cover the jar in paint, stickers or tissues paper?”

Remind the child to carry the materials carefully with two hands (preferably on a small tray) to the table. Although set-up may take several trips, it offers wonderful balance, coordination and gross motor skill practice and refinement. 😉

Time to Begin 🍶

Once the child has made their choices and their small work table is prepared, sit beside them and ask, “May I take a turn to show you how this works?” Use slow and exaggerated movement for clarity. Once again, ask the child if they would like a turn …


As the child works, the activity will reveal many answers. Make note of any adjustments that may be needed based on its ease to complete or challenges presented. These activities are skill building and offer practical life, sensorial, language, math and cultural learning opportunities. Once finished it will be the art process, not the end product, the child will walk away with. ☺️

“Wow, you really worked hard on this activity!”

“How many different colors do you think you used?”

“I watched as you remembered to dip the paint brush in the glue before covering the jar. That was an important step to follow!”

“You carried the jar with two hands so carefully!” …

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