Young children use all their senses all of the time! Sensory activities promote curiosiry, sense of wonder, exploring the unexpected, experimentation, and of course, sensory development.
An easy and fun way to teach your child about their senses? Art!
Art is fun! Children love to test their creativity by capturing the world on paper, whether that’s by sticking cotton balls together to make clouds or getting messy as they experiment with paint. Often, this draw to artistic expression begins very young. The feelings of cold clay or dripping paint are wonderful sensory experiences, and learning to make deliberate marks with crayons or fingers can develop your child’s motor skills. Even infants like to create! There are dozens of infant art projects out there that can bring this ability to light, and infant art activities can be a great bonding experience as parents catch a glimpse of how their children interpret the world.
MaryAnn Kohl’s book First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos is full of art activities for infants and infant craft ideas that will introduce your child to the world of art, spurring them to create something beautiful. Below are just a few activities this book offers. Just gather the art supplies and watch your little artist blossom!
Making the Paint
- Pour a puddle of liquid starch on a piece of paper
- Squirt one or two tablespoons of (non-toxic) liquid tempera paint onto the puddle
- Encourage your child to make the paint by mixing it with her hands.
- An old plastic table cloth, shower curtain, or newspaper
- White paper (preferably glossy or shiny)
- Masking tape
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing spoons
- Your newly-made fingerpaint
- Cover a low table with newspaper, a plastic tablecloth, or an old shower curtain
- Take a piece of white paper to the covered work surface
- Drop a puddle of paint in the middle of the piece of paper
- Encourage your child to spread the paint around with her hands, elbows, and fingers
- Possibly use some other tools for the painting, like chopsticks, a fork, a rolling pin, straws, or cookie cutters
- Make sure there is water and soap nearby so your child can wash her hands as many times as they want
Making the Dough
- Mix 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup water, and 1 teaspoon food coloring in a bowl
- Slowly add 4 cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon or hands until the dough forms a ball
- Put the dough on the table and knead until smooth
- An art shirt or apron
- Tools for exploring the play dough (chopsticks, dowels, straws, plastic knives, etc.)
- Your newly-made play dough
- Help your child put on an art shirt or apron since the dough is very oily
- Pound, roll, knead, poke, and stretch the dough
- Add sculpting tools to your play and exploration
Drawing in Sand
Making the Sand Box
- Line the bottom of a baking pan or cookie sheet with dark paper
- Cover the paper with about half an inch of fine craft-store sand
- Shake the pan so that the sand covers the paper evenly
- Drawing tools such as chopsticks, plastic spoons, straws, etc.
- Your newly-made sandbox
- Encourage your child to feel and explore the sand before drawing
- Draw lines in the sand using fingers, spoons, chopsticks, etc.
- Pat the design with hands to smooth the sand and start over again!