Visual arts, music, and drama are important elements of education for all ages, but in the early childhood years, children are especially eager to engage in these activities and find new methods of self-expression. Exposure to the arts is valuable for children’s development in its own right, as well as beneficial to their language, math, and fine motor skills.

Provide children with a large sheet of butcher paper and small trays or plates with paint to explore dipping and making marks with recycled materials such as toilet paper or paper towel tubes, containers of various shapes and sizes, materials with different textures, etc. This could be an activity that is available over several days that children can experiment with in a variety of ways.

Goal: Children will work collaboratively, use fine motor skills, and explore making marks with paint using a variety of recyclable materials.

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Fill a bucket or other container with water and give toddlers a variety of different types of paintbrushes.  Have children paint with the water on the sidewalk or even on a wooden fence.  They can paint shapes, letters, pictures, or even just cover the whole space.  It can be interesting to watch how the sun dries the water painting and then they can do it all over again!

Show children how to fold a large sheet of construction paper in half.  Open up the paper.  Fill some cups with paint and let children spoon some dots of paint onto their paper.  Fold the paper and let the children rub, pound, and squish the folded paper to move the paint around.  Open the paper up to see the design that was made.  Each side of the painting will be a mirror image of the other, so you could start a conversation about symmetry and other things in the world around that have symmetry such as butterflies, flowers, or snowflakes.  Children might also notice places where the colors they have used have mixed to create new colors or shades.

Goal: Children will explore symmetry and the effect that their hands have on mixing and moving paint.

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