Today, with Valentine's Day coming up--and honestly, with a heart-themed kid post due--I decided to spend some real, quality time with my boy. I've been wanting to do more art projects with him because his fine motor skills are quite good. So for Christmas, my Mom and Megan got Judah and I some art supplies to use together. Jason and I just finished setting up our office/craft room/Judah's art space. Here is Judah's corner:
I wanted to make a few different kinds of paper hearts with Judah, but I haven't stocked up on construction paper yet. So I decided to let him paint. Now, let me tell you...I hate messes... mostly because I don't like to waste time cleaning them up. But my tidy particularity tends to limit Judah's exploration. So I have to be creative in order to allow him to learn to do things without driving me absolutely crazy. Here are a few tips that I have learned that make painting with a toddler much less chaotic:
1) Create a space for him. Judah has his own table that he can get as messy as he wants. This way I don't have to be super anal about him keeping his paintbrush on the paper.
3) Give him a smock. I recommend these, which you can get at Ikea in a 2-pack for $5.
5) Use big brushes. This may just be a matter of preference, but Judah seems to be more satisfied when he can cover more area with one stroke. They are also easy for him to hold and control.
Finally, I let him paint.
Here's what we came up with.
|I admit--I did the one with the stripes. The hand-print one was a failed attempt at a really cute Valentine's Day card for Judah's dad. Oh well...it was worth a try.|
I let the paintings dry while Judah took a nap. I had all sorts of intricate visions for what I wanted him to do with them...teaching him to cut, glue, staple, sew, write... There are so many skills I want him to learn so that we can start doing really cool things together...things that are fun for me. But even from painting with him this morning, I was forced to remember that he is still a toddler. His attention span is limited, especially when I'm trying to get him to comply to my visions.
So instead, I decided to use the paintings for an activity that would be fun for him. I cut the paper into hearts while he slept. I made the hearts double-sided with cardboard in the middle so they would hold up better to repeated play. Making them a little thicker also made them easier for Judah to pick up.
Then I hid the hearts all over the house for Judah to find.
When he woke up from his nap, we went on a Heart Hunt.
and re-hiding the hearts where he found them.
From start to finish, his interest in the hearts probably lasted about 10 minutes. But he had a good time, and I loved watching the little spark in his eye and bounce in his step when he spotted a heart across the room.
This would be a great activity to do with a slightly older child, also. You could write something on each heart that you love about your child, so each one would be a little love note. Or you could design the hunt with your child for their father and decide together what you love most about their daddy. You could also use it as a teaching tool... After all, God leaves little love notes for His children all over...from nature to kind things people say and do to His provision for us. Giving your child practice looking for love notes could be a gateway to a conversation about how God sends His blessings every day. We just need the eyes to see them.