Toddlers enjoy art activities that involve the sense of touch. Allowing a toddler to put his hands in paint and arts and crafts material is more enjoyable to him than giving him a paintbrush and separating him from the tactile experience. Art that allows the toddler to feel things with his hands is what is important to him, according to Dr. Karen DeBord, a child development specialist. Spread out a tarp or old sheet on the floor underneath a table. Cover the table with a cloth and give the child a smock if he will wear it. Then, let the toddler dig into the art materials and get messy.
Make animal stamp pictures using wine corks. Dollop out two or three different colors of paint onto a paper plate. Dip the wine cork into the paint. Dot the cork onto the paper to make circles. Align the cork stamps to make a head and a body. Show the toddler how to make legs and tails by dipping her fingers into the paint and making lines on the cork animals. Use a marker to add eyes.
Create sunlight catchers with clear laminate, tissue paper and construction paper. Cut construction paper into a seasonal shape, including a snowflake, a clover, the sun or a pumpkin. Place clear laminate on the back of the paper. Toddlers can drop pieces of glitter, yarn or cereal onto the sticky side of the laminate to make abstract art. Cover with a piece of laminate, the sticky side on top of the art. Glue a piece of yarn to the top and hang in the window.
Cut basic shapes including squares, rectangles, circles and triangles out of construction paper. Help the toddler create designs by gluing the shapes onto another piece of paper. Show the toddler how to make a sailboat or a kite with the triangle shapes. Add pieces of yarn to enhance the artwork.
Roll out a large piece of paper that is longer than the toddler is tall. Or tape smaller pieces of paper together to make a large canvas. Have the toddler sit in the middle of the paper and trace his feet and legs. Have him lie flat and trace his upper body on the paper. The toddler can then draw or paint in his face and his clothes.
Gather pictures of family and friends. Help your toddler glue a picture on a piece of construction paper. Then have your toddler decorate the paper around the picture (frame) using crayons, stickers and colorful stamps.