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7 Ways to Engage & Encourage Your Toddler's Creativity

CreativityWe’re creative folk around here. Of this some of you may know. However, being creative or making creativity a mandatory part of the everyday for your children doesn’t mean that anyone in the house has to be a Bono or a Picasso. There are so many ways to be creative, many of which we do without even thinking about it. Creativity comes naturally to us humans and we revel in it organically, as a part of our development in how we learn, how we listen, how we make life enjoyable.

Engaging your kids in art and craft activities may seem simple enough (or not … we all know it can get really messy, really fast), but the effects on a child’s emotional, metal and spiritual growth can often be directly related to their freedom to be creative. A couple of days ago, fellow Toddler Times writer Mary Lauren shared her list of 20 Essential Art Supplies That Every Toddler Needs. Awesome list.

It’s up to us to set those wheels in motion, to gather supplies and set the stage. To show them the way without too much direction or intrusion. There is a time and place for both free play and focused play. When a toddler gets to create a vibrant painting or a caterpillar out of egg cartons, or a walkie-talkie out of toilet paper rolls, their confidence soars. Obviously, it also promotes their hand/eye coordination; ability to use a crayon, pencil, marker, paintbrush, etc. They learn how to grasp things and naturally turn to drawing shapes, numbers, letters and faces. Animals, trees … basically anything their imagination musters up, or whatever they are currently obsessed with. (For my little guy it’s all of the above).

In other words, the importance of creative development is that it enables your child to succeed. Not just at making something, but in achieving multiple levels of skill development, stimulating their minds and finding new ways to express themselves.

Below are my Top 7 Ways To Engage & Encourage a Toddler’s Creativity…


  • Engage & Encourage 1 of 7
    Engage & Encourage
    Engage with your tot. Get dirty with them. My little guy used to actually freak out when we first started to do finger painting with him. By making painting and other arts & crafts a common occurrence, he got over that real fast. It's amazing really, how much a young child's self esteem grows when they get to create their own art. Wyndham's little chest puffs out and he's clearly feeling like a rock star when he creates a masterpiece. As he should.
  • Variety Is The Spice of Life 2 of 7
    Variety Is The Spice of Life
    Have a plethora of options in colour and texture readily available for your little one to experiment with. A trip to the dollar store will have you scoring big time in this department. Feathers, glitter glue, white glue, popsicle sticks, varying sizes and colours of pom poms, googley eyes, pipe cleaners, tissue and construction paper, bingo dabbers, craft scissors ... you get the drift. Have fun with it! Take your toddler(s) with you and let them go nuts, it's the dollar store after all. You can also use household items like toilet paper rolls and egg cartons, beans and macaroni noodles, string, yarn and ribbon. Or go outside for a hike and forage up some natural materials like pine cones, leaves, rocks and twigs.
  • Freedom 3 of 7
    Freedom
    Let them do their own thang. Let them colour outside of the lines. Freedom in creation fosters independence and the confidence to succeed with all of us. The same goes for little people. I have found that the more art we do, the less hyper-active and saucy my little guy is. I watch his confidence blossom when he proudly proclaims, "I make dat!" Naturally this progressed state of development will filter on into other areas of your child's life. It has for mine.
  • Easy Acess 4 of 7
    Easy Acess
    Keep everything stored in a big basket that you can easily take out. Keep it in a spot they'll remember, (by telling them something like, "this is where our arts & crafts will always be sweetie! Whenever you want to do arts & crafts, just ask Mama or Daddy!"). Or keep it in a spot where they can see, instead of hidden away. That way they'll ask for creative time more often. Keep all of your supplies organized in your big bin or basket using mason jars or yogurt containers, baskets from a second-hand store ... whatever floats your boat.
  • None Too Young 5 of 7
    None Too Young
    Sure, it's messy. Life in general with toddlers is messy. The sooner you get over that (it took me a while), the more fun you can have with your kids. Also know that even the youngest of tots enjoy them a good messy paint session. They may try to eat it more often than their older siblings, which is fine, because of course you are using non-toxic paint, right? My Abby had herself a grand old time making handprints. It was adorable the way she opened her mouth in concentration and took an active role in the creative process. Kids really do get it, even the really young ones. I'm not gonna lie, she also enjoyed trying to stick everything in her mouth and bathing herself in paint plus squishing it around between her hands and toes. Oh, the glory.
  • Make It a Pre-Bath & Bed-Time Affair 6 of 7
    Make It a Pre-Bath & Bed-Time Affair
    As summer comes to an end, we have been unfortunately experiencing rainy, cold weather. The last rays of daylight greeted our dining room paint session after a serious thunderstorm not too long before. Point is, arts & crafts are always a great rainy day activity. Usually we're outside after dinner, talking a walk, going for a bike ride, hitting the beach down the street or playing in the backyard. I found it much easier to take the kids directly from their messy state directly into the tub. It's a nice way to mix things up during the week and has a calming effect on the 'ole bath/bedtime routine.
  • Save & Exhibit 7 of 7
    Save & Exhibit
    Save their works of art and make an wall dedicated to displaying it all somewhere in your home for them. I've chosen a one downstairs in their playroom, with not a care to how it messes with my 'decor'. I'd rather like to think it adds a whimsical charm and matches the toys constantly strewn about anyways. A quick and attractive way to display your kids art is to use cotton or hemp string leads secured to your wall with push pins on either end. Think clothesline. Exemplified by using clothespins to hang their pieces onto the string.

Totally off topic and in the interest of being straight up, I have a confession —which is quite clear from my pictures as of late. Some of you may know that we are a cloth diapering family. Recently I’ve been battling some health issues that affect my mobility and quite frankly can’t keep up with everything. So disposable diapers it’s been and we feel fine about it. More or less. Maybe I didn’t need to say anything about that … but cloth diapering was always a part of how we try to live our lives sustainably. So while I struggle with the realism that I can’t do everything I want to right now, the whole cloth diapering vs. sposie’s debate is really getting old. I’ve always thought this way. Us parents do what we have to do. Just putting that out there.

More Babbles From Selena…

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Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Creative Director. Social Media & Branding Consultant. Regular writer on Disney Baby. Part-time big-mouth & frequent foot-eater. Proud of her Anishinaabe roots.

You can also find me over yonder…

Via my humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve
Of guilty pleasures, geekery and badassery: on the Twitters
Connect to my hand-made personna on: Facebook
Join me in my Pinterest or Instagram addictions

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