Art is one of the myriad ways children express their feelings and thoughts. In my Montessori home, I provide open-ended art activities (read here for my art corner setup at home) that Miss 22 months can access at will. A prepared art environment means that Miss 22 months gets to choose when to create art, which medium to use for her art and how to go about it, all on her own terms.
I like that she is able to explore her art materials and indulge in art creation independently. At this age, all she needs is a bit of help putting on her art apron, occasionally prying the paint bottle lid open and getting water for her brushes. When those are out of the way, she can literally paint the town red. There are moments when she invites me over to collaborate on the artpiece.
For Valentine's Day, I added a few 'themes' and special upcycled art materials in her art corner for her to discover and use in her art creation process. it's really heartening to see her spot something new in her art box and get all excited over it!
Open Ended Valentines Day Toddler Art and Craft Ideas!
The various exciting 'themes' Miss 22 months worked on for Valentine's Day are as follows:
1. Love Blossoming Vegetable Stamping
Guess what I used for my floral stamps? Napa cabbage stems left over from meal preparations. Yes, you heard it right ;P
Napa cabbage stems look just like the outspread petals of a blossoming flower. When dipped in paint and pressed onto paper, they leave floral imprints that are oh-so-lovely!
I've also previously tried bak choy stems for floral stamping to great effect. Read this for our previous art experience!
While your toddler might only be interested in the process art and not so much of the end-product, the masterpiece makes a wonderful Valentine's Day card for family and friends. Add a flower quote you love (FTD has plenty of flower quotes and puns you can consider) in black marker ink and the card is ready to bring a smile to a loved one's face!
2. Heart Cardboard Paper Roll Stamping
I used the tutorial by Housing a Forest to make these cute heart-shaped cardboard stamps.
It was fascinating to see Miss 22 months stamping happily and then finger-painting to drown the hearts in paint lol. Major enveloping schema at work!
Tip: I used a piece of painter's tape to secure the creased M part of the heart together and hold it in place!
3. 'Guess How Much I Love You' Bookish Art Activity
Inspired by one of Miss 22 months' favourite books "Guess How Much I Love You" by Sam McBratney, we worked on this bookish art activity today.
We did our usual book reading with Miss 22 months' bunny loveys and I asked her to go through the pages to select the bunnies she would like to draw and paint. That's how we ended up with these standing bunnies who have outstretched arms!
The crescent moon is made from an upcycled paper plate and painted in yellow.
Like I said, Miss 22 months usually doesn't care much about the end artwork but she happens to LOVEEEEEE this one sooooo much! I taped it to the wall of her play area so she could regularly admire it lol.
4. 爱 (Ài / Love) Chinese Character Decoration
As an extension of the Valentine's Day Montessori shelf work I had created for Miss 22 months this month, I created another hand-drawn 爱 (Ài / Love) Chinese character sheet for her to decorate with her art supplies.
The strokes of the Chinese character were kept hollow so Miss 22 months could choose to trace the strokes in paint if she wished to!
I left out heart-shaped cookie cutters and a handmade DIY heart stamp (check out The Country Chic Cottage's tutorial) for her to use with paint.
Also displayed the completed masterpiece on the wall of Miss 22 months' play area in a bid to make her play environment print-rich, as inspired by Chalk Academy who explained that being exposed to a print-rich environment helps to boost literacy in children.
5. 'Color of My Heart' Cup Spinner to Learn Colors & Feelings
Recently Miss 22 months and I read 'In my Heart: A Book of Feelings' by Jo Witek. I adore Jo Witek's choice of words for describing the different feelings of the heart.
It's an apt time to introduce and have Miss 22 months learn about feelings because for a little one, she's been having BIG (meltdown-ish) feelings.
It's important for me to have Miss 22 months put a name to the different types of feelings she experiences and understand that all feelings are normal and to be accepted. This builds trust and bonding.
I hope that Miss 22 months would always be comfortable with expressing her feelings knowing that I would not judge or fault her for them. That she could come to me all the time and would still be loved even for having negative feelings. Through this exercise, I hope to help Miss 22 months manage her feelings into more socially-responsible actions and behaviour.
The idea of this heart color cup spinner comes from 10 minutes of quality time who made an emoji rotating cup game for kids. Hop over for a tutorial!
Modifications I made for the cup spinner - I cut out a heart instead of circle for the outer cup and wrote colors in Chinese on small sheets of differently colored construction paper which I taped onto the inner cup.
I demonstrated how to rotate the cups to Miss 22 months who caught on quickly. The turning is not without struggle for her little fingers (it's an excellent fine motor workout). I'll explain the feeling based on the color of the heart she had turned the cup to, with reference to the book.
Legend for the Chinese labels I used:
- 今天我的心是 _ 色 (Jīn Tiān Wǒ De Xīn Shì _ Sè / Today the color of my heart is _____ )
- 红 (Hóng / Red)
- 黄 (Huáng / Yellow)
- 蓝 (Lán / Blue)
- 绿 (Lǜ / Green)
- 粉 (Fěn / Pink)
The same feeling can take on a different color for everyone. There is no right or wrong to which color best represents an emotion and it is a personal choice.
Because I was inspired by the way Jo Witek describes feelings in her book which are given life through Christine Roussey's illustrations, I referenced a number of the color associations she used. It helps to keep the color associations consistent for Miss 22 months during this activity since is very familiar with the book.
If you're a fan of this book too and would like to reference the color associations I used during the activity, the following is roughly what I said to Miss 22 months:
- 当我生气时 ((Dāng Wǒ Shēng Qì Shí / When I am angry)，我的心像是在大吼大叫, (Wǒ De Xīn Xiàng Shì Zài Dà Hǒu Dà Jiào / my heart is yelling, hot and loud), 是火红的 (Shì Huǒ Hóng De / it is red hot)
- 当我快乐的时候 ((Dāng Wǒ Kuài Lè De Shí Hòu / When I am happy), 我的心就像一颗黄色的星星 (Wǒ De Xīn Jiù Xiàng Yī Kē Huáng Sè De Xīng Xīng / my heart feels like a big yellow star)，闪闪发亮 (Shǎn Shǎn Fā Liàng / shiny and bright)
I also used this opportunity to explain the idiom 'heart of gold'.
- 黄金类似于金色。 ((Huáng Sè Lèi Sì Yú Jīn Sè / Yellow and gold are alike). 有一颗金子般的心 (Yǒu Yī Kē Jīn Zi Bān De Xīn / Having a heart of gold)，意思是心地非常善良 (Yì Si Shì Xīn Dì Fēi Cháng Shàn Liáng / means you have a heart full of compassion)
- 当我的心如降雪一样安静时 (Dāng Wǒ De Xīn Rú Jiàng Xuě Yī Yàng ān Jìng Shí, / When my heart is as quiet as snowfall)，我很平静和满足 (Wǒ Hěn Píng Jìng Hé Mǎn Zú / my heart is calm and content), 心是蓝色的 (Xīn Shì Lán Sè De / my heart is the color of blue)
- 我的心像一棵树伸向天空 (Wǒ De Xīn Xiàng Yī Kē Shù Shēn Xiàng Tiān Kōng). 是绿色的 (Shì Lǜ Sè De / my heart is of the color green), , 充满希望 (Chōng Mǎn Xī Wàng / and feels hopeful)
- 有时我把我的心藏在没人能看到的地方 (Yǒu Shí Wǒ Bǎ Wǒ De Xīn Cáng Zài Méi Rén Néng Kàn Dào Dì Dì Fāng / Sometimes I hide my heart away from where no one can see), 我的心很害羞 (Wǒ De Xīn Hěn Hài Xiū / my heart is shy), 是粉色的 (Shì Fěn Sè De / it is blushing pink)
Sweet Valentine's Day, everyone!
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.