process-oriented art projects for young toddlers

Setting up art experiences for my little guy is one of my favorite tasks as a mama. I love to create things myself, and it excites me to provide open art explorations for him, too! Now, to clarify, I do NOT do big art experiences every day. Most days I just make sure there is a clean sheet of paper at his art table with some sort of mark-making utensil within reach. This guarantees that no matter how wild or crazy our day gets, he will have the tools necessary to create art independently in his own timing. I also make sure that paint and other favorite messy art supplies are within sight, but not necessarily within reach, so that my guy can ask for help to get them out if he so wishes.

I think it is also worthwhile for me to stop and expand on why I try to choose process-oriented art experiences most often. Until I started reading about and exploring how best to introduce art to my young toddler, I didn’t stop to think about the difference between product and process-oriented art. It was all art to me. And I loved it all! Now, I can see the benefit to giving your kiddo some inviting art materials and letting them run wild with their bodies and imaginations. Crafts and other product-oriented art projects have their place and can be fun ways to work on some fine motor skills, but process-oriented art is open-ended and encouraged kiddos to experiment, discover, and express themselves freely…and I have found deep joy in that!

Amongst some of our favorite and easy process-oriented art projects are mixed-media projects. It is easy to give him some markers or some stamps, but what fabulous thing will emerge if I give him both??

When I do have the time (and energy) to do something more than provide paper and drawing tools, here are some of the process oriented art experiences we have endeavored upon:

Our Favorite Process-Oriented Art Ideas for 12- 24 months (and beyond, I suppose!):

  • stickers and markers
  • contact paper collages


  • glue and yarn
  • finger painting
  • potato prints
  • dry erase markers and board
  • painting with various size and shaped brushes
  • liquid water color painting
  • feathers, yo


  • drawing with pastels, crayons, pencils, markers, slick stix, Crayola Twistables, wooden branch-style colored pencils
  • glitter paint
  • painting pumpkins


  • collage on cardboard
  • playdough/clay poking, pinching, and squishing (DIY scented and multi-colored play dough)
  • popsicle sticks, mini dowels, glass gems, marbles, shells, and pinecones for sticking into play dough to make sculptures
  • play dough in a jar for poking with popsicle sticks and dowel
  • white pastel on black paper
  • painting on natural objects (pinecones, shells, sticks, bark)
  • painting with different textured rollers
  • stamping
  • craft foam and various objects for poking and pounding


  • toy car paint rolling
  • painting with oil pastels and baby oil
  • cloud dough
  • drawing in/on a cardboard box
  • chalk outside, on chalkboard, and on paper
  • ziplock baggie painting
  • collaborative mural with finger painting and brushes
  • balloon prints
  • squishing and experimenting with shaving cream and colored ice
  • painting on ice
  • scooping and playing with snow indoors
  • painting with “snow paint”: shaving cream, glue, and glitter
  • building with blocks on a mirrored surface
  • paper shape punches with various colored paper, and then using shapes to make a collageimg_0444
  • marble paint rolling
  • muffin tin printing
  • glitter glue
  • color mixing experiments (blue and red make purple, etc.)


I am probably forgetting a few, but I hope you see something intriguing that inspires you! The messier, the more fun and learning is probably happening…so enjoy your mess!






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s