Toddler Time Activities

Here are some activities for young kids designed by artist Laura Wennstrom to bring some fun and creativity to your day!

Reminder: When making art with little kids, it is about process over product, so you can modify any of these projects to substitute materials you have on hand, and to fit your child’s age and interests.

When you’re done, share what you have made using the hashtag #InspiredByMia!


Project 1: Springtime Flowers inspired by Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol, American (1928-1987) Flowers, 1970. Color screenprint. Gift of N. Bud and Beverly Grossman 2000.186.1

You will need:

  • Watercolor paint or washable markers
  • Paper towels or coffee filters
  • Eye dropper, straw, or small spoon
  • Pipe cleaner or twist tie


Method 1 Use heavily-diluted watercolor paints in a cup to drip onto a paper towel using an eye dropper, a straw, or even a tiny spoon. (To use a straw, cut in half and show your child how to use their finger to trap a few drops and then release.) Drip onto paper towels to make a tie-dye design.

Method 2 Use washable markers to draw a design onto a paper towel or coffee filter. Drip water onto your finished design and watch the colors change and bleed. What happens when the colors mix together?

For either method, when your tie-dye paper is dry, twist into a flower shape and secure with a pipe cleaner or kitchen twist tie to make a colorful bouquet.

Project 2: Animal Tracks Painting

Inspired by Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge, American (born England), 1830-1904; Publisher: University of Pennsylvania. Animal Locomotion Plate 695. Collotype. Gift of Samuel C. Gale, William H. Hinkle, Albert Loring, Charles M. Loring, Charles J. Long, and Charles Alfred Pillsbury 81.76.77

You will Need:

  • Paint
  • Paper plate
  • Plastic animals/dinosaurs or natural materials (e.g., pinecones)
  • Paper


  • Squirt a few blobs of finger paint or tempera paint onto a paper plate.
  • Give your child a collection of plastic toy animals and begin to experiment with what it looks like when the animals get their feet in paint and then “walk” on your paper!
  • Use an additional paper plate to “corral” the paint-y animals.
  • *Bonus activity: let your child help give the animals a bath.

 Project 3: The Best Homemade Activity Dough

Inspired by Yoshimoto Nara

Yoshimoto Nara, Japanese (born 1959) Your Dog, 2002. Fiberglass. Gift of Dr. George T. Shea and Gordon Locksley 2007.100

Artist Laura Wennstrom makes this easy homemade Activity Dough on a regular basis at her house, and it provides hours of entertainment. Her 3-year-old loves to pour the ingredients and choose the colors—always pink!—and she likes this kitchen activity because it’s quick, low cost, and forgiving.

You will Need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food coloring


  1. Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan.
  2. While continually stirring, cook over low to medium heat until the dough starts to stick together. This only takes a few minutes.
  3. Once it starts to form a ball, and you can’t keep stirring, take off the heat.
  4. Place the dough on a plastic cutting board until it is cool enough to knead.
  5. Once cool, knead the dough a few times.
  6. Repeat the process for as many colors as you want to make.
  7. Store in a plastic bag. Keeps up to 3 months.


In addition to making art with kids, artist Laura Wennstrom likes to sing songs to introduce young artists to understanding of color. Here are some of her favorites for you to sing at home!


If You’re Wearing Something Blue (Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)
If you’re wearing blue*, clap your hands.
If you’re wearing blue, clap your hands.
If you’re wearing blue, oh if you’re wearing blue
If you’re wearing blue, clap your hands.

*Repeat, naming a different color each time. See how creative you can get!
If you’re wearing green, wave like a queen…
If you’re wearing yellow, shake like Jell-O…
If you’re wearing brown, turn around…
If you’re wearing pink, give a wink…

Rainbow Hokey Pokey Song!
Offer children ribbons or paper streamers in a variety of colors—or really any objects of different colors would work! Invite them to hold one streamer in each hand. Stand in a circle to sing.

You put blue* in,
You take blue out.
You put blue in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around,
and that’s what it’s all about!

*Repeat, naming a different color each time.

Other Resources

Laura also recommends the following resources for art-making with young kids:

Busy Toddler
“Making it to naps, one activity at a time”

Deep Space Sparkle
Geared more toward K-8 students, but a great resource for art making and ideas

Play to Learn Preschool
This site has lots of great projects, including this easy to use chart: