Here’s a super simple painting activity to try with your toddler that helps support fine motor skills, creative development and a general love of making a mess! Plus you’ll have a sweet little keepsake to hang up or give to someone special.
You will need:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup salt
- Up to 3/4 cup of water
- Rolling pin (or similar if it will do the same job)
- Heart cookie cutter
- Paints (and small container to put them in if needed)
- Paintbrushes – optional
- Cocktail stick or similar (to make the hole)
- Ribbon or twine
- Wet wipes to hand for a speedy clean-up
Preparation before you start (do this bit without the kids)
So I’ll admit, there is a bit of prep involved with this activity. As your children get older, they’ll be able to do more and more of this bit with you, but when trying this activity with teeny tiny toddlers, quite a lot falls to you to get everything ready. However, if you make up quite a few in one go, you’ll have a stock ready to grab bit by bit so can repeat the activity a number of times (particularly if your little one really enjoys it or you want to try it more than once…these things don’t always go brilliantly first time after all!)
Make up your dough by combining the salt and flour, then adding the water bit by bit until the dough binds together without being too sticky (too much water at this stage can result in a very drawn out drying process!)
Roll out the dough to approximately 5mm – 1cm thick, and cut out your required number of heart shapes.
Use a cocktail stick or similar to make a hole at the top of the heart (this will be for the ribbon to hang it up later). It’s worth making the hole from both sides of each heart, so it is even right through. Aim to make it fairly big so you will be able to thread the ribbon through, but not so big it weakens the very edge of the heart charm.
Leave to air dry – warning, this can take a VERY long time (the wetter the dough, the longer). I find it hard to keep an eye on the oven whilst entertaining a small one (and I’m no where near organised enough to do this sort of things in the evenings). So I prefer to stick them on a tray in the airing cupboard and forget all about them for a few days until they have properly firmed up.
Set out your paints – you can have a small selection so there is a limited number of colours, or go the whole hog and just let your child have a play with all of them. It really depends to what extent you’d like the finished charm to have a particular look. And you can have paintbrushes on offer, or keep the activity to just finger painting. Its a simple choice, but can make a big difference to the finished result.
I’ll be honest, right now my little one just loves using the brushes to load up her hand with paint (and more paint, and more paint) and then doing a bit of hand printing before getting right back to covering her hands again – really that’s the best bit for her!
So I’m always keen to let her explore and play as freely as possible with the paints, building on where she is at and what she most enjoys. But occasionally its also nice to try and introduce something a bit different to help her consider different ways of using paints. This is one example of an activity that did just that, and gave her the opportunity to try some finger painting out too.
So I gave her the opportunity to cover the hearts any how she wanted to in the first instance (and yes, this involved the usual hand printing approach…)
Then I let the paint dry before returning to the activity another day, this time only putting out some purple paint, and demonstrating some finger painting…
So there is a way of approaching this activity that satisfies a completely free-play approach, or that is more directive, or a bit of both.
To finish (again, without the kids)
Let the paint dry, and if you want to you can add a coat of varnish or PVA glue to give a shiny finish. Thread through the ribbon and tie in a loop ready to hang.
You can also use the smallest heart template on my download found here (from a whole other post) to cut out a mini heart and write a special message, the date, or the age of your child, to add even more nostalgia to this little keepsake.
I hope you have fun making these with your children. If you are interested in more ideas for supporting children’s creative development, follow my Pinterest Board Creative Activities for Toddlers, and sign up for updates from me.
Thanks for dropping by!