Art with Toddlers: 4 Reasons to Try Process Art

When it comes to art in the early years, I am so passionate about letting young children explore! Toddlers are little adventurers after all.  As a early childhood special educator, I know that Sarah Szuminski feels the same. That's why I've invited her to write a guest blog post all about process art with toddlers.

So What exactly is Process art? 

Process art allows children to choose, direct, and explore many aspects of art creation.

The emphasis is on the process of creating and there is no expectation for what the finished product will be. While the term can sound intimidating, it simply means following your child’s lead to see how they decided to create!

Process art is fantastic for all children, but even toddlers can benefit from the freedom to explore art materials. 

Here are four reasons to incorporate process art with your toddlers:

process art with toddlers

1.Process Art = Rich in sensory exploration

Process art can be a messy, whole body experience as your toddler explores the sensations of paint, glue, and even markers or crayons on paper. Because they are dictating how to use the materials, children who normally could be a bit defensive about new sensory experiences feel in control and safe to do as they please.


2. Process Art Develops fine motor skills in a playful fashion

When your child explores using writing materials, such as crayons or paint, rips paper, or uses glue to complete a self-directed art project, they are building fine motor skills that

will lead to later success!


3. Process Art is great for Early mark making exposure

Creating art allows toddlers to explore making different marks on paper – big scribbles using their whole arms, dots and dashes, spirals.

These various marks are great practice for future writing, without ever doing a worksheet or adult directed activity!


4. Builds self-confidence

Because process art is all about the journey, not the destination, there is no right or wrong way to create.

This means that process art is perfect for building confidence and creativity as we trust that toddlers are capable. 


Ready to dive into process art with your own toddler but not sure where to start? Here are my favourite early art tips:

  • Tape paper down to the table or floor before starting to create. This creates a natural boundary for creating and keeps pesky paper from moving all over!
  • Strip your little one down to their diaper or put a large bib or smock over their clothes so you don’t stress about stains.
  • Use one art supply in one colour to start out with. A cup of paint with a little bit of paint, one marker, or one crayon. 
  • Remember that every art experience, no matter how short, adds up! Your toddler may only engage for a few seconds or a minute or two, but slowly their attention will grow.


About Sarah Szuminski

about sarah from learning with hazel

Sarah Szuminski is an early childhood special educator, play advocate, and mama to two adventurous little girls.

Sarah has worked with young children of all abilities for over 15 years and believes that every child deserves the chance to learn through play.

She shares her love of simple play, art, and outside exploration on her Instagram, @learning.with.hazel, and through trainings for early childhood educators and parents. 


In need of more ideas for your toddler?

Our littlest learners can be the hardest to engage, that’s why I believe that toddler activities should be simple, fun and most importantly super quick for us adults to set up!

Toddlers are typically able to concentrate for 2-5 minutes per year of age and so creating elaborate play activities for them really doesn’t make a heap of sense. Aim to create activities that take 5 minutes or less to put together.

Process art is just one example of a toddler activity that is fun and simple.

Click here for all 20 fun and simple toddler ideas!


Sarah Szuminski
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.