You really can never start too soon to actively introduce art concepts to your kids. Before you run away to break out your set of Old Masters flash cards, think about some of the things you’re already doing with your baby/toddler, and slowly work up from there.
1. Bath tub crayons- Perfect for introducing colors to your child, as well as the idea of patterns and shapes. When they’re very young you can do all the work while you’re telling them what you’re drawing. As they get older, they can copy what you draw or go off on a mad fit of bathroom tile art all on their own.
2. Ink pads or small blobs of paint in red, orange, yellow, green, blue- one color on each finger and press down next to each other on paper. They get to feel the colors and have the satisfaction of their little fingers making something pretty!
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3. Blocks. If you have different colored blocks, you can start working with your wee one on patterns and color grouping. They probably won’t get it right away, but it’s one more step toward introducing these concepts. One day they’ll be designing giant skyscrapers.
4. Watching you draw. You can grab a pencil and paper or an Etch-a-Sketch and start drawing things like balls and trains and animals. Your child will observe you making marks on a surface, and they’ll love to guess what you’ve drawn. They will probably start to ask you to draw things they’ve seen you draw, and this eventually leads to you showing them how to copy your drawings.
5. Make a nest (pinch bowl) full of eggs (tiny balls) and snakes (rolled coils) out of playdough. They will get used to the basic shapes used in hand building with ceramics. Playdough is the quintessential first experience with sculpting and young kids are enthralled with it.
6. Come to think of it, art flash cards aren’t such a bad idea. You probably already play music for your baby or toddler, so why not expose them to high-quality visual art? Wonderfully illustrated children’s books are a good start, but also show them artwork at museums, art books, and even photos of art online.