When babies spill food and start playing in it, using their fingers and palms, they are not just making a mess. They are exploring making marks and this is your child’s first step towards writing.
You can encourage a toddler to make marks by giving them different surfaces and mediums to explore. Paint is usually a good place to start ( Click here for a recipe for non toxic home made paint).Make sure everything you use when allowing little ones free rein in the art department, is non toxic. Then before starting spread some plastic sheeting or newspaper around. Make sure you are both wearing old or protective clothing. Squeeze paint onto a page and let them enjoy exploring moving the paint around with their fingers. You might also like to show them how to make handprints. Offer sponges, cardboard, or scrunched up cloth for them to paint with or even with their fingers. You can also cut shapes into potatoes or simply cut them in half and show the child how to make prints on paper. Over time they will gradually gain control over their muscles. This is great fine motor control practice and assists in their hand-eye co-oridination they will one day need for writing.
When outdoors you can take a big plastic bowl and put some sand in it to play with.Use play sand, not builders sand. Add some water to dampen the sand and let the fun of mud pies and sandy exploration begin. You could also give children chalk and show them to use this on a paved area. Rain or a sprinkle with the hose pipe will wash it away. You could also give them a bucket of water with a paint brush and show them to paint the wall with the water.
Start introducing chunky crayons or marker pens and start collecting scrap paper to create mountains of art. Always praise a child for any efforts they make and be enthusiastic about whatever they do or show you and display their artful creations with pride around the house. They’ll be encouraged to create even more.
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