Coloring

Coloring may be the most basic and common of all art activities for young children. Crayons are inexpensive and easy to transport and to clean. You will discover that you can spark your child's imagination by avoiding coloring books and templates and trying these open-ended ideas instead.

Sparkly Pictures

Liven up your child's coloring projects with this easy idea!

  • Have your toddler color any design or picture she wants on a dark-colored sheet of construction paper. Remind her to press hard for the colors to show well.

  • Next, let your child use the brush to paint over her picture with the salt water. (Be sure to stop her before the paper becomes too soggy.) The crayons will resist the water. When the paper dries, the picture will sparkle wherever the salt remains.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 10 minutes

Dark-colored construction paper

Crayons

Paintbrush

Salt water

Tape Pictures

This is a simple way to encourage your child's creativity and fine motor skills.

  • Help your toddler tear the masking tape into smaller pieces and strips.

  • Have her put the tape onto the paper in any design that she wishes.

  • Let her color over the tape. Encourage her to cover as much of the paper as possible.

  • Let her peel back the tape to reveal the picture.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 30–40 months

Duration of activity: 10 minutes

Masking tape

Construction paper

Crayons

Paper Bag Batik

This process will give your child's artwork a unique look.

  • Cut the bag open so that it forms one piece of flat paper.

  • Help your toddler soak the bag in water and then squeeze the water out. Let the bag get wrinkled.

  • The wet bag will tear easily, so open it carefully and lay it flat.

  • Once the bag is dry, your toddler can color a design on it.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 15 minutes

1 brown paper bag

Water

Crayons

Black Magic

This classic activity still delights young children!

  • Let your child color on the paper with crayons. Avoid dark colors such as black, brown, or gray. Show her how to press hard to make sure the crayon marks are heavy.

  • Once the picture is complete, your child will paint over the entire paper with the black watercolor paint. The original crayon drawing will resist the paint and show through.

  • For older toddlers, or with your assistance: Instead of using watercolor paint, help your child cover the picture with a thick layer of black crayon. (All crayon layers must be extra thick for this to work.) Scrape away patterns or designs using the side of a coin to reveal the vibrant rainbow colors underneath.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 20 minutes

White paper

Crayons

Black watercolor paint

Paintbrush

Rough Art

This activity will help your child express creativity and learn about textures.

  • Let your toddler explore coloring on the different textures of sandpaper.

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 10 minutes

Different grades of sandpaper

Crayons or chalk

Cupcake Crayons

Recycle and reuse old crayons! These homemade crayons are easy for small hands to hold, and they produce bright colors and patterns.

  • Discard brown, black, and gray crayons.

  • Remove the paper from all crayons. Small fingers may need help with this.

  • Break remaining crayons into small pieces no more than ½-inch long. Supervise your children carefully to ensure they do not put any crayons in their mouths.

  • Distribute crayon pieces into muffin tins lined with liners.

  • Bake at 300 degrees until all the crayons are melted together.

  • When cool, remove the new cupcake crayons from the tins — they'll be ready to use!

Activity for an individual child

Age group: 18–40 months

Duration of activity: 30 minutes

Old crayons and crayon pieces

Muffin tin

Paper muffin or cupcake liners

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