Arts and crafts aren’t just great for rainy day fun, and when the sun is out, it’s a great time to grab some sidewalk chalk and Baby’s hand, and start an outdoor art adventure! Big, round sticks of chalk are the easiest for Baby to hold or use at this point in their development.
Whether you think of yourself as an artist or not, there’s a good chance you have years’ more experience drawing stick figures than Baby does. You can show them how to draw simple shapes that represent things they recognize, like a house, a car, a flower. If Baby is learning about colors, letters, or counting, you can ask questions about it, like “how many flowers did we draw?” or “What color is the house?” engaging your child’s burgeoning curiosity about math and basic reading skills.
One way you can help Baby start to make the connection between drawing and the objects the drawing represent is by having them outline objects, like a ball or a shovel, or your hand. Lay down your hand down and have your child try to trace your hand, or her hand. Take turns outlining each other, and prepare to wear a matching mess!
While showing your toddler how to draw simple, fun, pictures can be a great, interactive way to use chalk together, there’s really nothing like seeing what they will come up with on their own. They may still default to scribbles, but since they're getting older, there’s a good chance they may be starting to draw pictures that are meant to represent something.
Drawing a playground
When play gets too silly or too messy, or it’s clear that Baby is ready to run or jump, use the chalk to draw boxes to jump in and out of, or simple lines to jump over. Create a “river” that your child has to cross using only one hop. Create a two-dimensional staircase and have your child hop from stair to stair, singing the “ABCs” or another favorite tune.
On especially hot days, you can bring out ice cubes to watch how the melting water changes the pictures and drawings you have created. Using a simple recipe of half cornstarch, half water and food coloring, you can even create ice chalk for you and your child. (Be sure to wear play clothes, just in case!) Turning on the hose or using buckets of water to wash away the drawings – both on the sidewalk and people! – can help with fun clean up time too!