Blocks N’ Brushes…Adventures in Painting with Toddlers!

“One must act in painting as in life, directly.”  ~Pablo Picasso

The most beautiful thing about toddlers is they approach every task, every adventure, and every obstacle with the same curiosity to “just see what happens.” They case out a new situation with a “hmmm, I wonder what will happen if I do this?” attitude, instead of a “oh, I’d better not try that because ‘this’ might happen!” Toddlers don’t know what “this” is. The come to the table with no preconceptions. They are here to explore and conquer!

When it comes to this activity…painting with something other than just a brush, the toddler rule still applies. I set up some very simple and familiar items not normally seen together in our house…“Bells” (which is what I call the little munchkin in our story today), went right for the brushes, as this was a familiar item to use with paint.I highly recommend these brushes for anyone with toddlers or babies that like to paint. They are called Funky Brushes by Alex Toys and you can find them here. They are perfect for little hands!

After painting with the more familiar, Bells moved on to try something new. She didn’t question if the blocks were allowed to get painty…she just figured, “well they’re here aren’t they?”What a fun clunky sound it makes!

Now here is where it gets fun. Typical trial and error, cause and effect toddler play begins in earnest…Bells begins to experiment with fitting the blocks together. She builds, she stacks, she paints, she balances, and she learns. Here, see for yourself…         

It’s a beautiful thing to watch a toddler learn the world around her. By providing invitations to work with familiar materials in an unfamiliar combination, you give toddlers an extraordinary opportunity to explore cause and effect. They can experiment, predict, fail, and succeed. They can learn.

Oh, and they can make a mess…  I know some of you are thinking it…. “How the heck am I going to clean that up? It’s SO messy!!!” Well, I’ll tell you. You let her do it herself. Right here at the table. That’s the other good thing about toddlers! They think cleaning up is part of the activity if you make it fun! I started with giving instructions for Bells to find the different shaped blocks one by one and asking her to put them in the paint dish. Then I asked her to find the different coloured brushes until they were all in the dish… Then I gave her a big bowl of warm water and she went on playing. Only this time she was playing in something that would get her clean!I gave her a hand towel when she’d had enough of the water and she dried herself up. Done. This is where I grabbed a rag and used the water Bells had been playing in, and washed up the splash mat on my kitchen table. “Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy”, as my kids would say!

Now go and have some fun!

Thanks for stopping by!

~Arlee, Small Potatoes


8 thoughts on “Blocks N’ Brushes…Adventures in Painting with Toddlers!

  1. I think I was brought up in a similar way – re cleaning up being part of the whole activity. To this day, it’s like a natural progression to everything I do. And I have to be very careful not to get impatient with people who haven’t been brought up that way, as I trail after them, cleaning up their mess (I only do this with adults, not with children – with children, I insist they make it part of the activity lol!)
    Does the mess ever hit the floor for you though? Your smalls seem to play so tidily! This is a question I’ve wanted to ask in a while 🙂

  2. An occasional paintbrush hits the floor, yes! I encourage them to face the table and keep their arms in front of them when they are working, but they still grab the backs of chairs occasionally with messy hands. But if you notice, my furniture is pretty old in my kitchen. If it has stood up since 1930, a bit of paint or shaving cream is not going to cause it’s demise! 😉 I’m close by with a rag and an apron for mishaps!

  3. Love it! I rarely see kids making a mess… on purpose… with a parent encouraging this, lol! I love when my kids get really into their activities but I have to remember to make them clean up right after as opposed to me discovering their mess later. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: HashBrowns…August 13-17 2012 | Small Potatoes

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