Craft time with toddlers is always a fun (and interesting) experience. They love to play with new colors, textures, and materials. Everything is new, and exciting, and interesting. Sure, you can end up with some interesting, somewhat unintended results; but hey, that’s half the fun, right? It’s always interesting to see what little ones come up with—and even if you’re aiming for Pinterest-worthy crafts to display year after year, it never hurts to have a few pieces that are uniquely your toddler’s.
First, prepare your space. The last thing you want to do is spend the next month trying to scrub tempera paint off of your carpet, so find a large, relatively open space where you can work without having to worry about your toddler reaching out and, ah, decorating the cabinets for the season. In many cases, the kitchen floor is an excellent place for this! Put down something to protect the floor: an old blanket whose primary purpose in life is now crafts; several sheets of newspaper; a large tarp. If you do crafts like this frequently, the tarp may be well worth the investment, but plastic tablecloths (like the kind you would pick up for a child’s birthday party) will work equally well.
Put out just a little bit of paint to start. Can you use more? Sure. Is it going to make a bigger mess? Oh, yes. You can always add more later, but if you go forward a little bit at a time, if something does happen (like the paint plate getting turned upside down, or used as a Frisbee, or…), you’ll have less of a mess to clean up.
Get your crafts done first. Little white feet make adorable ghosts. Orange, yellow, and white make beautiful candy corn. And who doesn’t love fall pumpkins made out of little handprints? Get your intended crafts done before you let your child have too much creative freedom, though, or you’re going to have to go through the whole cleanup process twice.
Turn your child loose. Hand them the paintbrush, explain the rules (no paint on the floor!), and see what they create! The results will be adorable—even if they end up with more paint on themselves than on the project.
Enjoy. Who doesn’t want an Oompa-Loompa running around underfoot? Oh…that paint on the carpet thing. Right. Well, a quick bath will fix most of that, right?