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Artsy mama, interrupted

Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick is a freelance writer and editor who contributes regularly to SheKnows, MintLife, AOL, iVillage and other sites. In her articles, Elizabeth covers a variety of subjects including relationships, pregnancy, paren...

Indulge your crafty side with a toddler

Artsy mama with no time to indulge your creativity? Here are projects that will satisfy your need to create and appease your curious, I-want-to-get-involved-in-whatever-you’re-doing toddler.

Indeed, the greatest masterpiece you’ll ever create is your child. But artsy mothers do sacrifice some creative time in the name of child-rearing. If you feel like you’re losing a bit of yourself, you don’t have to wait until your children are old enough to hold their own scissors before you introduce them to the beauty and freedom of art.

Gather perspective about toddler crafts

Even if your curious little one is more likely to try to taste-test the glue and crayons than help you design a masterpiece, the act of making art and teaching your child something in the process is its own reward.

“Toddlerhood is a time for exploration. This is the age where they’re learning through play and creative outlets so this is the perfect time for a mom to express her creative energy!” says Ashley Renee Jefferson, an early childhood enthusiast who teachers toddler art and movement classes. “The young-at-art do best when it is open-ended. Think process over product,” says Jefferson. In other words, minimize or eliminate your expectations of how a project will turn out. Then, begin!

Passionate about paper

For toddler crafts that truly indulge your little one’s need to deconstruct, paper art is the way to go.

Book it. The No-Glue Fold Book can be made from virtually any sheet of paper, explains Heidi Reimer-Epp, stationery expert from Botanical PaperWorks. Follow the easy step-by-step instructions to create your book as your child folds her paper into its own unique pattern (you keep the scissors). Together you can decorate your books with stickers, markers, crayons or collage.

Fold it. Have a thing for creating something out of nothing? While you shouldn’t expect your child to become an origami master with this toddler craft, she’ll certainly have a blast folding “like mama” as you follow the detailed instructions in Origami: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making Animals, Flowers, Planes, Boats, and More.

Creative everyday play ideas for kids>>

Close to the earth

Freedom is one definition of “art” and there’s no better place for you and your toddler to experiment and get creative than outside. “Being in a setting that is reserved simply for your art and all things natural can be great for alleviating you from the clutter in your mind and provides more focus for your toddler,” says Jefferson.

Glob it on. Get back to the earth with the GLOB Collage Kit — everything you need to create art in one handy box, including botanical paint packs, wildflower seeded cards, bamboo brush and paper cut-outs. As you carefully collage, your child can sort the contents of this non-toxic kit and hunt for additional items to include in your creations. Flower petals, fallen feathers, leaves — just hopefully not any earthworms.

Spread the love. Jefferson suggests focusing on sensory-based artwork like painting when you’re including toddlers, and putting a twist on it. Have your kids use more than their fingers or a brush to spread that paint around — try toy cars, Styrofoam balls, even ice. Lay out a plastic table cover outside on the ground to set up the area for your desired artwork. Concerned about your child eating the paint? Use berries instead.

Fun (and messy!) activities with your kids >>

Send a message

There are plenty of ways to get your point across — teach your toddler that his burgeoning vocabulary is only one method of communication.

Mini postman. How much did you love sending a letter as a child, or waiting for one to arrive? The excitement of choosing your stationery, decorating it with stickers and stamps and depositing it in the mailbox was a rite of passage. Introduce your toddler to the delight of snail mail — no smartphones, tablets or computers allowed — with a toddler post office. This inspired idea comes courtesy of Lyndsey Payzant from the stationery place.

Tablets for tots: Lazy parenting? >>

A banner craft. Your toddler doesn’t have to root for the Pittsburgh Pirates to appreciate the vibrancy of a pennant — and you don’t have to be a sports fan either, mama. The design experts at super-hip The Foundary’s Modern Kids Shop suggest the artsy mom and her toddler create banner pennants. Follow the step-by-step how-to and encourage your toddler to choose the materials (from paper to foils to fabric) and color combinations and show him how to trace a stencil (you do the “heavy lifting” of scissor and glue work) to make funky shaped pennants beyond the triangle.

More about toddler crafts

Ask the expert: Fun toddler craft ideas
20 Creativity-boosting activities for families
Kids get creative in the kitchen

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