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How Do Your Toddlers Get Their Arts-and-Crafts Kicks?

Taylor Newman

Kaspar has been fascinated with Aaron’s paintings since he first hit that staring-wide-eyed-at-colors-and-patterns phase in infancy. Now, well over a year later, he points at different shapes and images in the paintings, and tells us all about them. Whatever he’s saying, he’s sure that he means it—I guess I’ll get the deets whenever his unique Germanic baby babble develops into intelligible (English) sentences. In the meantime, we nod enthusiastically and ask him to tell us more.

We appreciate the arts as a valuable vehicle for self-expression, and I want Kaspar to grow up expressing himself freely, as well as seeing the range of ways in which people the world over go about creatively communicating their own perspectives and experiences. In that spirit, we bring Kaspar out to art openings, exhibits and concerts in the park whenever we get the chance (I also look forward to taking him to see live dance). If we’re smart about it, we all have fun. In fact, Aaron had some paintings in a group art show a few weeks ago, and a bunch of our friends came out with their kids. The babies ended up dancing (to the live band, complete with bongo drums…) well past bedtime. And the adults all got to sip wine, talk amongst ourselves and look at something other than Yo Gabba Gabba, for a change. Suh-weet. We also took Kaspar to one of Austin Museum of Art’s two locations this past week, which turned out to be a fantastic family date (you can read all about it, and see proof in photos, here).

I’ve brought both crayons and sidewalk chalk home for Kaspar to get his artsy side on with. He’s found them pretty interesting (our bathroom wall tells the story of Kaspar and the Purple Crayon). And, considering his newfound affinity for smearing his dinner all over the dining table-- and channeling his inner Jackson Pollock via the splatter-spoon technique—I’m thinking finger paints will be our next big hit. I still draw in the same style that I did when I was four (read: no skills in that department), but I love projects of all kids, crafts, and color. I’m glad Kaspar seems to be at the point where arts-related activities can hold his attention for, you know, ten minutes at a time; I’m wondering if you all have any good ideas for projects or mediums that best suit the toddler set?

art opening 

Kaspar and me with our good friend Erin, and her son (Kaspar's good friend) Elliot, at the art-show-turned-toddler-dance-party. 

Do your kids rock the Play-Dough, color with crayons, paint at an easel, or what? Do you have any go-to craft projects that they get into? Anything seasonal that they enjoy (I love an opportunity to connect whatever we’re doing to the world around us in some way)? How do you let them have their fun while also containing the mess? I can’t wait to hear what your little toddler-bots are doing on the arts-and-crafts front, and to introduce Kaspar to your great ideas!

Ps. Don't forget to check out my new blog, Alt-Mama! Dancing babies, tasty recipes, tales of adventure in mom-land: it's all there.

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