'...and remember you mustn't eat it' - said my daughter to herself while opening a paint pot.
I couldn't wait for that moment, when Odessa is ready to grab the brush and make her first paintings.
I saw us together painting and drawing and everything in my dream was easy, beautiful... and clean.
Unfortunately the reality tends to be different...
The thing about toddlers is that they are a bit clumsy, the word 'experiment' has no limits and they like to do things they are not allowed to do. Anyone who would like to see an example should come to my home and see the frescos pasted over our walls that my little girl has managed to create...
I think it's important to give them the right 'tools' (i.e., age appropriate), tools which they would find interesting to use without damaging the space around them, or themselves. Yes I do believe in freedom, in being creative, and I love my daughter experimenting, but I also do like my home, and I don't want have her attempts of drawing rabbits heads all over my sitting room floor.
First of all I would like recommend the Early Learning centre and their basic range for arts and crafts. They are decent quality products and ELC stock all the basic items your child would need to start their adventure in art. Everything is on sale now and is fairly inexpensive.
These are few items I bought for Odessa and found very useful:
1. Easy painters by ELC (at the moment on sale - two pounds for set of five bottles!!). They are great for painting without making much mess... a very simple idea - bottles with paint with a little sponge in the end - you just need press on paper and it paints. I Like them because I can leave her with them by herself without worrying there is going be red paint all over carpets.
2. Non spill paint pots (ELC and again only two pounds for set of six). Of course you need to buy paint to put it inside which costs around 50p at the moment... they are a brilliant idea, I came across them in my local one o'clock club and many toddlers really enjoy using them. Basically children dip their brush in pots, but the design of them prevents the paint from spilling out, you can twist the lid to close the pot so the paint doesn't dry.
ELC also stock some lovely sets of sponges, rolling pins, art starter kits, crayons (I would advise buying several types kind of crayons in different shapes so you can see which one are the best for your child). There are many other nice products on sale at ELC, so check their website (art and creativity section).
I buy paper in our local £1 shop where they do A3 and A2 pads. A pound is a great price for such a big format (which I think is the best for little ones as it can cover a desk so they can't draw on it).
Of course Djeco does beautiful art and craft products (some of them deserve a separate post) - but this time I would like to recommend the stamps they do...I got Odessa the one with geometric shapes (as I noticed she is very interested in shapes and pointing them out all the time). For example she was was pointing at the roof of a house we passed by telling me "it's a triangle"). I wanted to show her how she can incorporate this observation into her own pictures. So her djeco stamps contain plain pictures and you create detail using the different stamps (for example, triangles as cats ears, circles for eyes etc.).
Djeco also sells very pretty stencils which little children often like.
My last suggestion would be or parents to experiment themselves and come up with their own idea of what could be used a painting tool.
The lady at Odessa's art class once gave them little cars to dip into paint and then got them to 'drive' all over the paper...
On Odessa's last birthday party kids picked apples from the garden and painted them rather than the paper I prepared for them. There are plenty of possibilities: stamps from potatoes or you can colour leaves or sea shells... my daughter likes when I paint the sea so she can 'fill' it with little fish.
Odessa did try to eat her paint despite her own very clear suggestions (see above), judging from her facial expression the paint did not taste as she expected and let's hope she has learnt from that experience...