Little Artists - top tips for toddler art | Preschool & Primary Practices

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

At the beginning of May this year I started a new venture, joining the amazing practitioners at The Nutshell in Winchester. This new arts centre in the town centre has all sorts of activities like theatre groups, yoga, and poetry, but I joined as a art workshop leader for young people!

Now, I'll be writing about the other art clubs when they wrap up in July, but today we are focusing on Little Artists and the tips and tricks I use to help them reach their creative potential! For a bit of context these sessions are an hour long, and mainly work with ages 2-4; so all the ideas down below are best for this age!

First of all I'm going to tell you something I learned very early on, if a preschool peep doesn't want to do something it probably isn't going to happen... So there is only so far you can stretch these tips, but I have found they do keep focused a lot longer when I use these techniques. So let's have a look!

1. Setting the scene with sounds - I personally don't like working in silence, it's just

awkward! I also have peeps arriving at different times, so to get a bit of background noise

going I pop on some sounds. Now, as I'm sure everyone who has or works with children

will agree, children music gets somewhat grating rather quickly... There is only so many

times one person can hear the wheels on the bus before going a tad crazy. So I prefer

going for some ambient sound. My favourite being garden noises! I've had

many comments from parents on this too, with it being a more relaxing alternative.

There are more than you could imagine to pick from on YouTube, but this one is my

personal favourite. It has bird song, breeze, a babbling brook, and even the occasional cat


2. Making use of parcel paper - I love this

one. I really really do. Basically it

involves rolling

out a big bunch of brown paper, and

sticking it down to the table, much like

a table cloth. That's really it! I buy my

brown paper here, being as it is a

sustainable company, but you

can equally use brown parcel or

wrapping paper!

I always use this method for a number of reasons. It allows the peeps to let loose and

make big work, without being limited to a paper size. It means they are able to get started

as soon as they come in and sit down, while waiting for all the other members to turn up.

And it's nice and easy to clear up, people can cut out bits they want, then I can roll up all

the rubbish inside and put it straight into the recycling! To make it look a little jazzier at

the beginning of each session I use whatever our starter material might be (chalk, crayon,

bingo daubers, etc) to draw lots of little illustrations that match the days book. Which

brings us on to the next tip!

3. Get reading - Each art activity I base

around a book. We begin by reading,

and 'arting along' which calms everyone

down and gets them ready to make.

First we put bums on seats and make

sure we have our listening ears out!

Then I begin to read, normally books

with a link to art, or one with a nice

illustrative style that we can replicate.

Some I have used before include The Shape of my Heart by Mark Sperring, Creaturepedia

by Adrienne Barman, The Case of the Red Bottomed Robber by Richard Byrne, and My First

Georgia O'Keeffe by Isabel Sanchez Vegara. While I am reading I will encourage them to

draw something on the page, to get the idea of basic shapes, and answer questions along

with me like what can you spot on this page? This then builds us up to our main activity,

where the books can be used again for inspiration and copying practice.

4. The early finisher box - Dependant on

the little person, an hour can be a long

time or

absolutely no time at all. To make sure I

always have something for them to do, I

have an early finisher box. This is a box

full of popular crafty bits, that they can

dip into if they begin to disengage from

something. My favourite bits and pieces

for this include these foam stickers (which absolutely everyone loves), your standard

colouring pencils, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, and plasticine.

5. Materials and tidying games -

Something I like to instil in all my

workshop attendees is

respect for materials, and the

importance of tidying up after yourself.

With younger ones it tends to work best

if you make this into a game! For

example, to stop violent brush

stabbing we make brush mice! These

are simply little rolled up balls of plasticine with a

couple of googly eyes, and a pipe cleaner tail. And what are mice? Quiet and timid! So we

are gentle with our brushes not to upset them. This works wonderfully, and is also great

if you can get names involved, and let them keep the brushes.

I also like to include some tidying up games, because I just don't have the time (and

certainly not the energy) to tidy up after everyone! Even if it's just a little bit it is good

practice to get the little ones to help. Whether that is collecting as many pieces of rubbish

as they can to pop in the bin, gathering up all the pencils, or making a tissue paper pile. It

is great to start good habits young, and is a real help for me!

Let me know if you try any of these tip and tricks, or if you have any more that you can share! Stick them down in the comments below. And if you like the sound of helping your little ones get creative come and join one of my sessions starting again in October. Subscribe to my mailing list here, or at the top of my blog page, to join my news letter and see when the sessions are back!

Until then, get making!

Georgia de B.

Please credit Georgia de Buriatte or deBuriart Workshops if using any of the elements of this lesson. Or to book me to lead a workshop contact me on

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