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Painting Activities for Toddlers – Happy Hooligans

Big Art Ideas for Toddlers - lots of painting activities for toddlers

Painting Activities for Toddlers: big art, painting without brushes, and some unplanned body-painting.

There are all kinds of creative art techniques for kids under the age of two to experiment with. Little kids LOVE to paint.  They love getting messy. They love a BIG, clean canvas, and kids love to express their creativity on. These were all things that I was thinking of when I set out these painting activities for the 2 year old a couple of weeks ago.

Miss 2 was the only one here on this day.  Miss 2 LOVES painting.  And Miss 2 is not afraid to explore whatever materials you place in front of her.  I thought it would be fun for her to work with a variety of different painting tools on a huge cardboard canvas.  I was right.  It was fun.  It was VERY fun!  When I say she got right in to it, well… that’s putting it mildly.  Read on to see what I mean.

I expected that things could get a little messy, so I protected the floor with a plastic tablecloth.

Then I put down a large cardboard “canvas”. I am fortunate to have a friend who works in a packaging factory.  She gives us these huge end-rolls which serve as a base for many of our projects.

I arranged several groups of painting “tools” around the mat in an inviting fashion.

Tools for painting with and without brushes:

  • paint brushes
  • credit cards
  • craft feathers
  • wooden blocks
  • dish scrubbers
  • sponge brushes (we’ll call these stompers)
  • styrofoam meat trays to hold the paint

Enter the toddler!

She started at the top of the mat, and worked her way, counter-clockwise, around it, testing and painting with every tool hat that she came to.

Big Art Painting Activities for Toddlers:

First up were the paint brushes – a painting tool that she’s very familiar with.  I found it interesting that she went to those first.  I guess because in her mind, there was no doubt about what their purpose was, and how she would use them.


painting activities for toddler set out on a big cardboard canvas

painting activities for toddler set out on a big cardboard canvas

Painting with dish scrubbies:

Then I clued in that she didn’t realize the other items were there for her to PAINT with.  It was obvious to me, but of course, she wouldn’t recognize those items as painting tools.  So I explained that she could paint with all of the items on the mat, and I encouraged her to try a scrubbie.  This was a first for us, and it was fun; stamping, pouncing, pounding and scrubbing.  She made some lovely marks.

toddler painting with a dish scrubbie

toddler painting with a dish scrubbie

Next up were the credit cards.  This is where things started to get really fun!  We’ve done lots of credit card painting activities over the years.  This is one of my favourite processes for colour-mixing and making collages.

She scraped and blended the colours together, splattering her legs and feet in the process.

PicMonkey CollagePicMonkey Collage

Then she used the credit card to blend the colours on her paint-splattered legs. And when she was happy with her work, she moved on.

toddler painting her legstoddler painting her legs

Painting with blocks:

Painting with blocks is a great art activity for toddlers.  Wooden building blocks are easy for little hands to grip, and great for stamping shapes and adding interest to an art project.  You can dip your block and stamp with it, or you can paint the block and press it on to your canvas.

toddler painting with blockstoddler painting with blocks

Painting with feathers:

Moving around the mat, she came to the feathers next. I think this might have been my personal favourite. This was another process that we’d never tried before.  I love the marks that the feathers made on the cardboard; squiggles, straight lines and wispy, wavy lines. We’ll be painting with feathers again for sure!

toddler painting with featherstoddler painting with feathers

Then Miss 2 discovered the best canvas of all: herself!

Toddler painting her hands and feetToddler painting her hands and feet

She couldn’t resist.  And I didn’t stop her.  She was having the most wonderful time.  I knew it would all come off with soap and water, so I let her explore.  She was in her glory.

Toddler with hands in paint trayToddler with hands in paint tray

And when she was satisfied with the art she’d created on her body, she went back to the paintbrushes, blending, and mixing the rest of the colours in her paint trays.

toddler painting big arttoddler painting big art

It was a beautiful thing.

And what will we do with this new gorgeous canvas of ours? Oh, it’s going to come in very handy! Keep your eyes open for it. You’ll catch glimpses of this work of art popping up here and there in lots of future blog posts!

Stay tuned! We’ll be doing more big art painting activities for toddlers.  I’d like to explore some car-painting like Fantastic Fun and Learning did, and painting with bouncy balls like they did over at Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds!

Paint splattered toddler feetPaint splattered toddler feet

But for now, you’ll have to excuse me; someone needs a bath!

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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.