Every week in the art area of the classroom, your toddler will have the opportunity to engage with a variety of activities to help them learn how to use different art mediums and offer your child the opportunity for self-expression. Activities include scribbling with crayons, chalking, clay or Play-doh, easel painting, and watercolor painting.
Side Note: Gluing and scissor cutting are available in the classroom as well to help develop fine motor skills but are not necessarily considered art or a form of self-expression at this age. When watercolor painting, the child obtains the tray from the shelf that includes paint, a small cup for water, a brush, and a sponge. Then the child obtains an underlay to put Featured Lesson in the Toddler Community under their work and protect the table. Next, the child puts on an apron and selects one paper from the supply shelf. At first, the child might only paint a few lines or dots, but over time, the child will work to fill the page. The child is encouraged to obtain another paper if they would like to encourage repetition and concentration. As always, the child is encouraged to clean up their underlay and tray with a sponge before returning it to the shelf. Through time, the child refines their grip of the paintbrush. What a gentle, inviting way to learn how to later hold a pencil for writing!
Why are art activities important?
Dr. Montessori once said, “Our schools prepare an eye that sees, a hand that obeys, and a soul that feels.” Through art activities, children learn how to “Our schools prepare an eye that sees, a hand that obeys, and a soul that feels.” -Dr. Maria Montessori use different art mediums refining the movements of the hand and at the same time children are given the opportunity for self-expression. Montessori toddler art emphasizes process As children explore watercolors or other art mediums, the emphasis is on the process rather than the product, allowing children to explore art materials and refine their skills without any emphasis on creating a piece of art. Children are, by nature, process oriented. Adults are, by nature, product oriented. Adults can easily and unknowingly shift the focus of art activities to creating an end product. As adults, we have to pause and be mindful of how we interact with children so that children do not lose interest in exploring art activities. Let’s just take a minute to acknowledge this is *HARD* as parents. We are often so excited to post a child’s artwork on the refrigerator or frame it on the wall. We ask the child is that a person? Can you fill the whole paper? Do you want to add more paint over here? Can you make a picture for Grandma? Children are confused and sometimes demotivated by this focus on the ‘end product.’ For many young toddlers they are just discovering the wonder of how crayons make color transfer to the paper or how paint can go on thin or thick. They are not really trying to create a picture at this age. Does this mean you shouldn’t hang your toddler’s art up in your house for display? No, but just remember this display is for your enjoyment.
When talking to children about art, it is appropriate to not stifle the child’s joy and artistic expression.
Examples of supportive responses: • No response at all; just observe and enjoy their wonder! • “I see you used a lot of red.” (neutral voice) • “You spent a lot of time on your drawing.” • “Tell me about your picture.” It is really important to try NOT to: • Make negative or positive value judgements on the work (pretty, beautiful, looks like xyz, why didn’t you fill the paper, etc.) • Respond in a way that would indicate that the child’s art makes you happy. We want children to engage with art out of their own desire, not to make us happy. • Make comments about painting for you or someone else. Instead, just save a piece to share with Grandma or Grandpa. You can support your child’s self-expression by offering crayons, chalk, and paint at home! Join them. Observe them. Enjoy the quiet moment. Have fun