Toddler Art

When I first started planning toddler activities (i.e. for a not-yet-2-year-old), this is the sort of stuff I thought we’d be doing:

This is my work. The toddler handed me the quilled paper and strips, and I repeated “點, 持” (dip, stick) over and over to show her how glue worked. She likes hedgehogs.

Instead, this is what toddler art looks like so far.

Here we have a soggy envelope (it originally held the paper quills), which entertained her for over a quarter of an hour. She couldn’t get enough of squeezing the water out, soaking it back up again, and then dumping the bits and pieces between two cups. We were both delighted.

Process, not product. I have MaryAnn Kohl’s book First Art for Toddlers and Twos to thank for that philosophy. The book is full of lovely suggestions for sensory play and ways to explore art materials and their uses.

Indeed, if it weren’t for reading this book, I’d probably be pretty frustrated by now at the lack of “products,” but instead, I’m learning to appreciate her exploration of materials. I need to keep reminding myself that this is the first time she’s played with glue, or that she’s taking the time to enjoy being able to uncap markers and put the cap back on, all without assistance. Why rush all the new experiences?

Suffice to say that my personal progress has been in admiring her process, and to smile when she smiles. It’s not easy, especially being a high-school teacher used to seeing projects done and assignments turned in, but I do wonder what would happen in the classroom if I were to return and prize process over product.

After about 8 weeks of exposure to markers, this is where we are. Different colours added at different intervals, on a DIY art easel (which is actually perfect for her height! I should add another picture next time, haha).

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