Abstract Art For Toddlers

Abstract Art For Toddlers

It’s no secret that raising a toddler is not always a picnic. The tantrums, frustration with communication, and lack of understanding morals can make any day a challenge. While I definitely have my work cut out for me some days, there are also a lot of wonderful aspects of my toddler TJ getting older that are super great!  He’s getting better at communicating, for one, and it’s just wonderful to see him interact with his new baby brother with affection! It’s also incredibly rewarding to see him embrace and begin to understand concepts like numbers, letters, colors and shapes– we’ve been talking about them for a while, and I’m so happy he can recognize many of them now! (And now I don’t have to feel like I’ve been talking to a wall for the past months…)

I’m also super excited that TJ is getting to the age where he can somewhat understand and appreciate artistic activities and crafts we do together. I was browsing the web the other day, looking for some ideas involving art, when I stumbled upon a variation of this little gem and knew we had to try it! This activity combines the fun and learning benefits of messy sensory play with the opportunity to actually create a piece of unique and interesting art.

Now, first off please know that if you have to stop yourself from wincing when you the term “messy play,” you’re not alone!  I know and love the benefits of messy play for toddlers; I just don’t love the benefits for my house so much… However, messy play is a great way to mix up our day every once in a while– and TJ almost always loves it! Also, I’m a fan of this activity because you actually get some sort of result from the mess rather than just, well, a MESS. If you’re looking for a relatively simple idea for some great messy play, this activity is gold. Not only is it fun for toddlers, but it also helps teach motor skills, spatial awareness, color recognition, and creativity.

img_6758-2Materials (This post contains affiliate links.)

  • -Masking or Painter’s Tape
  • Art Canvas
  • Acrylic Paint
  • -Paint Brushes
  • -Ice cube tray
  • -Drop Cloth (I always keep a few cheap Plastic Tablecloths on hand for this sort of thing– they make cleanup a snap!)


  1. Start by taping out a simple geometric design on the canvas with the masking tape. I did a random design, but you could do something symmetrical if you wanted! Make sure to press down on the edges of the tape with your fingernail to stop the paint from getting underneath. (Some paint might still bleed. You can touch it up with white paint at the end if you want, or just appreciate the uniqueness of abstract art!)
  2. Squirt some paint in the ice cube tray for your toddler (I have a tray that I use specifically for crafts or sensory play). I used colors that match the decor in TJ’s room; in hindsight, I maybe should have used a few less colors and made sure they would mix together well. Oh well!  Lay out several paint brushes– I used one for each color, but TJ ended up just using one or two and mixing the colors as he went. You could also lay out different types of painting tools– conventional paint brushes, a sponge brush, a little roller, a piece of sponge, a wine cork…
  3. Lay the canvas and materials on the drop cloth and let your toddler at it! (I took off TJ’s clothes so we didn’t get paint on them! I would suggest changing into some paint clothes yourself too…) TJ investigated the paint by itself first with his fingers. I dipped a brush into the paint and started painting the canvas, and he quickly took over. He loved watching the colors mix and covering the canvas. (Look at that happy little guy!)  I helped out a little to make sure the entire canvas was covered– you can too, or just let your kiddo leave some blank spots for a different look.
  4. Once your Picasso is finished, give them a nice bath 🙂  TJ did a great job at keeping the paint on the tablecloth, so cleanup was relatively simple. I just bunched up the tablecloth and threw it away immediately, then rinsed out the brushes. All done!
  5. Once the paint has fully dried on the canvas, carefully peel off the tape. You can do it yourself or let your kiddo help! Here’s our finished piece:

Abstract Art

That’s it! You and your kiddo can decide together where to hang up their masterpiece for the world to see. We hung it on the wall right above TJ’s craft table in his room! TJ loved this activity and enjoyed getting to show it off to Daddy and Grandma when she came to visit. I loved watching TJ create and getting to introduce him to art! This was the first time we did an activity where TJ felt pride in the result, which warmed my heart. I’m a huge supporter of creative activities for young minds, both to teach and to help them develop their appreciation for art. I’ve seen art in many different forms help children express themselves when words don’t cut it, and it personally got me out of my shell when I was a painfully shy fourth grader. I plan to kindle my boys’ love for creativity early on, and hopefully they will continue to love it as they grow!

Anywho, TJ had a blast with this activity. We’ll probably whip this one out some other time too– maybe we’ll have to paint a bright and cheery scene to counter the winter blahs of January! I’m excited to see what TJ does next!

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About Me
Well hi there! I'm Katie, the creator and writer of Delightfully Frazzled. I'm a wife, a mother of two, a Christ-follower, a cat owner, a people-lover and an insatiable DIY-er. Learn more about me and Delightfully Frazzled on my About page!
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February 2018
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