I read The Montessori Toddler book and was hugely inspired by the Montessori style of empowering children to be independent in initiating their own play and activities by making resources available to them.
As such, I set up an art corner for Gwen (17 months), where simple art supplies like pencils, crayons and markers are available, along with wet wipes for cleaning up, loose scraps of paper and a WaterWow book.
Whenever Gwen has the desire to "daw daw", she no longer has to come to me to help her set up the drawing activity. She fetches her own paper and art supplies, places them on the table and does her own artistic thang ;) Interestingly, she gets the concept of cleanup too. When she accidentally draws on the table, she would go, "oh no!" and more often than not fetch the wet wipes on her own.
Perhaps it's because drawing is so accessible, she does it a number of times a day! Lately, she's been taking her markers to different surfaces - the wall, the floor, the carpet, the Pikler triangle rungs etc. I would remind her the rule to keep her drawing on paper, and she complies.
I didn't want to discourage her testing her drawing prowess on novel surfaces, so I ideated on new materials she could draw on and directed her drawing to those surfaces. Cardboard delivery boxes and the bath tub walls are good options. I also discovered another interesting canvas lying around the house at this time of the year - PUMPKINS!
As for the subject to draw on the pumpkins, it didn't take long for me to decide. EMOTIONS! From 18 months, toddlers start to experience BIG EMOTIONS, which explain the recent increase in temper tantrums.
It is important to help young children understand what emotions they are experiencing (best to put a name to them) and have them know that the way they feel is normal and all feelings, positive or negative, are accepted. As a parent, I want Gwen to know that I'm her safe haven, to be comfortable showing her real emotions around me and be herself.
Feeling Pumpkins Emotions Activity for Young Toddler!
The first time I tried it as Gwen watched with interest, she laughed when I drew a pig using washable markers on the pumpkin. Excitedly she took her own markers and drew all over the pumpkin happily.
She was even more surprised when I took the wet wipes and managed to erase my drawings on the pumpkin, saying "bye bye!" as the drawings vanished from sight and the pumpkins became a clean slate once again.
After she was done exploring the pumpkins (drawing and erasing on repeat), I introduced our subject matter for the day and drew 3 big emotions - happy, sad and upset. I drew happy, sad and upset faces on the pumpkins, named the feelings, and gave simple real-life examples on when Gwen experiences them.
"You are happy when Daddy comes home."
"You are sad when other children snatch your toy."
"You are upset when Mama tells you it's bedtime but you still want to play."
True story for the upset analogy lol. In any case, I think a great book that teaches about feelings is The Pout Pout Fish (which I like for its final positive ending.)
What I Love About this Activity
- Doing a familiar activity (drawing) with a twist (new surface) provokes and extends thinking and boundaries
- Exploration of new textures and shapes
- Reversible drawing enforces cause and effect learning
- Fine motor practice (Drawing on a rounded surface takes more coordination and aim than on a flat surface)
- Teaches young children what emotions are, how emotions can be depicted and when emotions come into play in daily life
- Encourages communication of feelings
- Enhances awareness of self and self-worth when children understand their feelings (and all feelings) are normal and can be accepted
To follow Gwen's play adventures, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram) or A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.
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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.