5 BEST Art Activities for Toddlers

5 BEST Art Activities for Toddlers

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 May 2024

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

It’s a LOT of work! But it’s totally worth it when you are doing what you love right?

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

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

There are so many different activities that are good for toddler exploration, but here are my all-time favorite five.

But first, let me share my two 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.

Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

Must Haves for Toddler Art Activities

1. A large bin

A large clear storage bin, like you find at Target, is perfect for toddler art exploration. You’ll see these being used in many of my photos.

2. A 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.

Having these two things will help keep the mess contained. Set up the tablecloth with the bin on top and repeat to your child “we have to keep it all inside the bin”.

Eventually, if you do it often enough, they start to get it and they will learn that when you bring out the big box, something fun is coming. But they’ll also learn that they must keep it inside at all times. 

Art Activities for Toddlers

cloud dough
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

1. Cloud Dough for Toddlers

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

All you need is 8 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of baby oil. 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. Then throw in some spoons, small bowls and muffin tins and you are set!

water play
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

2. Water Play for ToddlersThis post contains affiliate links.

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

Pour water into your bin about ¼ full. 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 shaving cream, add brushes and let them wash the toys with sponges and rags.

playdough on tray with animals
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. And it’s so easy to make!

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”.

painting wall
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

4. Painting for Toddlers

On any surface. 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 try making a texture wall with old toilet paper rolls, lids and egg cartons and have them paint on it. 

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

toddler art activities
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) in the lids and paint each lid a different color.  

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!

water play for toddlers
Photo by Catalina Gutierrez

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Originally published in artfulparent.com