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5 BEST Art Activities for Toddlers

by Catalina Gutierrez
February 13, 2022

Catalina Gutierrez of Redviolet Studio shares her favorite art activities for toddlers that encourage creative exploration, including cloud dough, painting, playdough, water play and more.

Updated February 2022

Okay, so let’s talk toddlers.  I don’t know what it is (ok maybe I do; it’s everything!), but toddlers win my heart right from the start.

I have been teaching a few morning classes for this age group in different locations of Miami, and I must say these are some of my all-time favorites.

It’s a LOT, and I mean a LOT of work! (Especially when I am 100% mobile – I transport all of my stuff. Plus there is set up and then clean up can be quite a hassle.) But it’s totally worth it when you are doing what you love right?

water play in bins_catalina gutierrez
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

My approach with this age group is more that of a facilitator. I like to set up different art & play stations for them to explore and I “let them be”.

I “let them be” around the stations and I let them interact with them in their own way.

Sometimes mommies, daddies or caregivers try to lead them, but I suggest they just accompany and do nothing but observe how the children are learning and processing independently.

water_play_catalina gutierrez
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

I love toddlers for so many reasons; they are always curious, always exploring and connecting with the world through their experiences, through their senses.

Early childhood is such a beautiful and short window of time. And (although it can be hard and challenging at times) I strongly believe we must enjoy it while making it fun for the little ones in our lives.

There are so many different activities that come to my mind right off the bat when I think about toddlers.  I have done a lot, and there are many I absolutely love, but today I want to narrow it down to my all-time favorite five.

Best todder art activities pinterest 2

My Must Haves For Toddler Art Activities

But first, let me share with you my 2 must-have items to make the magic happen. This is my biggest secret in terms of making it easier to set up and clean up.

1. Get a large box

Look for one like the one you will see in many of my pictures.

2. Drop cloth

Look for a $1 table cloth from the Dollar Store or a canvas drop cloth to wash and reuse over and over again.

The whole purpose of having these two things is keeping the mess contained. You will set up the tablecloth (or drop cloth) first with the box on top, and always repeat to your child “we have to keep it all inside the box”.

Eventually, if you do it quite often, they start to get it and they will learn that when you bring out the big box, you will have something fun for them. But also that they must keep it inside at all times. 

So now to the point! 

Art Activities for Toddlers

Cloud Dough for Toddlers
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

1. Cloud Dough for Toddlers

It’s like being at the beach without having to leave the house.

All you need is a bag of flour and a small bottle of vegetable oil. You can make more, of course, just by doubling the ratio.

  • Put all of the flour in the box and then add the oil little by little while mixing it into the flour using your other hand.
  • Keep adding until you get a fun texture with a consistency similar to sand. Loose, yet a little sticky.
  • Throw in some spoons, small bowls and muffin tins and you are set!

I promise you will be able to get some things done around the house because your little one will be engaged for a long time!

Toddler Art Activities - Water play
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

2. Water Play for Toddlers This post contains affiliate links.

This one is so simple to set up and is always engaging for the little ones.  

  • Fill your box about ¼ full with water.
  • Add some drops of food coloring for a little extra fun.
  • Then add any fishes or animals you may have and some rocks, sifters,  small bowls and funnels. Let them explore.

There are many variations to this one. For instance, you can get some toys, dolls or animals “dirty” with some shaving cream or whipped cream, add brushes and let them wash the toys with sponges and rags.

You can add recycled lids to the water bin or maybe cut up straws.

With this one there is no wrong, anything goes. Really.

PLAY_DOUGH__catalina gutierrez
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

3. Playdough for Toddlers

What is it about playdough that makes it so satisfying regardless of the age?  There are so many fun ways in which you can present an inviting playdough station.

I love spreading it inside the box and placing some animals, cars, or small people on top. You can also add some sticks and leaves to make it look like a real jungle.

Another idea I love is setting out cupcake liners, shakers and cut straws so the toddlers can make their own “cupcakes”.

In regards to the playdough, you can buy it or make your own. There are lots of recipes online and I promise it’s not that hard to make a decent batch.  

Toddler Art Activities - Cardboard Art Wall
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

4. Painting for Toddlers

On any surface. And I mean any. It can be some paper taped to the wall, or maybe some fabric set up on the floor.

 Keep a few cardboard boxes from your packages and let them paint those. Or maybe you can make a texture wall with old toilet paper rolls, lids and egg cartons and have them paint on it? Always a favorite.  

We love paint around here. We use tempera paint which is non-toxic and washable and the colors are nice and vibrant.

COLOR_SORT_catalina gutierrez
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

5. Color Sorting for Toddlers

Save your oatmeal cans, or cereal boxes, make some small round holes (about the size of a large coin) and paint the holes in different colors.  

Get a bunch of colored pom poms and set them on a box next to the boxes/cans.

Let the kids work on some color sorting and fine motor skills as they try to match the colors by sticking the pom poms inside the holes.

I hope you enjoy these activities, and if you want to see more ideas check out my Instagram account and get creative with your little ones while having fun!

child playing in playdough_catalina gutierrez
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

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