Painting with Toddlers: More than Paper and Paintbrushes


Last year I couldn’t get S to touch anything that might stick to her hands, or even anything she just thought might stick to her hands. However, recently she has been into experimenting with all different sorts of feelings and textures. She likes to paint, but I have learned that it is best not to limit her to paper and paintbrushes. Instead, I add some toys to the mix that she can use as a “canvas”, or use to “paint” with along with paintbrushes and sponges. I also make sure to set her up in an area where it is OK to get messy, for us that is the garage floor with a big piece of paper spread across it.IMG_8443

Sometimes the area extends into the driveway as she experiments with things like rolling paint covered cars down our driveway.IMG_8457Despite the fact that the paint is non-toxic, I do try to prevent it from going in her mouth; however when it comes to her hands, legs, and even her hair I do not usually say anything since I don’t want to interrupt her fun with having to worry about “silly grown-up rules”. I do interrupt the fun sometimes to take pictures though because how can I resist capturing these moments?IMG_8291_1

For toys to use and paint on, S is usually pretty content with her little Matchbox cars. She covers them in paint and also rolls them across the ground to make tracks. Additionally, I have given her toys from her play kitchen (she likes the rolling pin), plastic figurines and other small plastic toys, as well as some sponges to play with and plates to mix the paint on (and of course smear her hands around in as well).IMG_8294_1IMG_8280 IMG_8281_1 IMG_8440

Initially she will sit and actually “paint” a little bit, though she seems to prefer to paint on her toys and other objects rather than on paper. This is something I completely encourage, l love letting her explore and I will paint along with her. Usually I try to let her lead the activity. I don’t want to influence her too much in terms of what to do and paint because I love to watch her own creativity develop and see what her little mind comes up with. IMG_8442

Usually she progresses to wanting copious amounts of paint squirted onto her hands and then she smears it on her cars and rolls them around in her paint covered hands.IMG_8293

Sometimes by the time we are done S looks like a little warrior with her war paint on. IMG_8461

Painting is a great activity for us on a hot summer day because almost better than the painting part is the cleanup part. We get out the hose and S gets to wash herself as well as all her toys, something that she loves to do. She also gets to play with the hose a bit which is always a great way to end a morning or afternoon activity.IMG_8469

Painting is a little bit of structured play for S, as in we have to set it up for her a bit, but once we get the materials out I try to leave it as open for her as possible. When I can I just sit back and watch, but when she wants me to partake in the activity I join in the fun. I have found that providing her with more than just paper and paintbrushes provides her with a lot more opportunities to be creative and just have fun.

52 Weeks of Saving (Week 34 of 52)

Week 34 – Cloth Diapers

S and I are on week two of vacation and it always amazes me how much we spend on disposable diapers and wipes when we use them for vacation. I am working on a post about what cloth diapers we use, what I think of all the different brands we have, and how much money we have saved using cloth diapers and wipes, but I think I am going to have to be home on my computer to finish it. Which means, for right now anyway, this is a short post to say that spending money on disposable diapers while we are on vacation makes me realize how much money we must be saving the rest of the year by having S wear cloth diapers.

A Year to Clear (Week 34 of 52)

Week 34 – Doormats

DoormatsPretty boring, but this week we got rid of two doormats; an outdoor one and an indoor one that had migrated outside. The outdoor one was never good, it fell apart every time you wiped your feet and caused you to track more dirt in than you would have without any mat at all. The indoor one was always in the way so it somehow ended up outside where it was forgotten about. Together, the mats were a parking spot for S’s trucks and provided a home for many unwanted bugs in our backyard (or at least unwanted in that given location). So it was time for the mats to go, they were not in good condition at all and had to be put in the garbage can. They weighed a total of six pounds.

Wet Wednesday: Refreshing River

IMG_8757_editA couple of weeks ago we went swimming in the San Marcos River with some friends. It was S’s first time in the River and it had been quite a while since Matt and I had been. We went swimming on the Texas State Campus, close to where the River flows out of Spring Lake. The water is cold, clear, clean, and refreshing. S was a little cold after a few short swims, but she had no fear jumping right in and letting the current carry her downstream.

IMG_8758When it comes to swimming, S and her dad are two peas in a pod. If the water was warm enough they could swim all day. IMG_8764IMG_8760IMG_8765

It was a great outing for a hot summer morning in Texas and afterward S took a super long nap. Before too long I want to take S back to go on the glass bottom boats in Spring Lake, I think she would love it even if she is a little young to understand the educational aspect. To learn more about the San Marcos River and Spring Lake you can check out the Texas State Meadows Center for Water and the Environment website here.

52 Weeks of Saving (Week 33 of 52)

Week 33 – Take Advantage of the Local Library

libraryS LOVES books. Some days I think she could sit and read Curious George stories with me all morning. We have a lot of books for her, but sometimes it is nice to change it up a bit since S could listen to the same story over, and over, and over again. So we go to the library to get new books. S enjoys sitting at the little tables in the children’s section, picking out new books to bring home, and (her favorite) scanning the books at the electronic checkout counter. A couple of weeks ago S noticed a little boy going through a stack of books and asked me what he was doing. I just told her that he was looking at books (because that is what I thought he was doing), but a librarian heard her asking and came over to tell us he was picking out a free book as part of their summer reading program. I thought S was too young for summer reading programs, but nope, it is good for even the littlest readers! So this week when we went to the library S turned in her summer reading program paperwork and she got to pick out a book. To my surprise there were a lot of good books on the little shelf of free books. S of course wanted one of those board books that has a single picture and word on every page, but she has pretty much outgrown those books so luckily we were able to convince her to choose The Super Swooper Dinosaur Instead. How could you go wrong with the words Swooper and Dinosaur in the title?

When we walked out of the library with S’s new book I started thinking about how many free programs the library offers, especially for kids. They have summer reading programs, story time, programs for young Lego enthusiasts, craft events, music events, programs in different languages… and the list goes on. The public libraries offer so many programs for kids that I really need to remember to take advantage of them as S gets older, especially before I start signing her up for other programs that cost money. All that in addition to being able to bring home new books to read all the time. Public libraries really are a great thing, especially in a world with so much focus on technology and digital media.

A Year to Clear (Week 33 of 52)

Week 33 – Miscellaneous Garage Items

GarageStuffMatt went through the garage and cleaned it out a bit. There were some dried out tubes of glue and caulking, some random containers and other items, some garbage, and some other house repair items like tile grout that says “best used by 2012″. It doesn’t look like all that much in the picture, but it added up to 52 pounds! I’m donating what I can (like a window shade and music stand) and recycling anything that can be recycled, but unfortunately some stuff is still going to have to end up in the garbage. Little by little we are reducing our amount of “stuff”. Since we now know that we will be moving towards the end of the year we have a little bit more motivation to really go through our stuff and get rid of things that we don’t think we will ever use.

A Year to Clear (Week 32 of 52)

Week 32 – Old Paint

PaintThis week Matt went through the cans of paint in the garage for me. He found four cans of latex paint that were dried out and unusable; I think these cans were all here when we moved in five years ago. The cans that are almost empty will go in the garbage can after we leave them open a little while to make sure they are completely dry. I thought maybe the cans could be recycled, but according to the City of Austin website  they need to go in the garbage. The one can that is almost full of dried out paint (it is almost the consistency of rubber) will be left out to make sure it is fully dry and I am pretty sure since it is latex paint it goes straight into the garbage as well, but I will probably call the City just to make sure. I did find out that the City of Austin does remix paint it receives at the hazardous waste collection facility, once it is mixed it is available to City residents for free. Pretty neat! All total, the cans and dried paint weighed 14 pounds.

Wet Wednesday: Mountain Adventures


I am a few weeks behind on this one, but in July we took a last minute trip to Colorado. We didn’t have a lot of time for play, but one morning we did have time to take a drive into the mountains where we walked around Evergreen Lake in Evergreen, CO. It was a great family hike. We were happy to escape the Texas heat and be in the mountains for a couple of hours it was S’s first trip to see real mountains. She was excited to see the lake, but at points she begrudgingly walked along with us or let Matt carry her.

IMG_8684What she really wanted was to be IN THE WATER. She put he hand in and I thought knowing how cold the water was might deter her, but nope, she wanted to get in regardless of the temperature. I told her once we walked all the way around I would find a place she could put her feet in. When we were almost back at the car I found a boat ramp that she could wade around on a little bit so I took her pants off and let her go.IMG_8694

We told her only to get her legs wet, but she sat down before long and you guessed it, this eventually happened.IMG_8704

Finally, when she was shivering cold and I told her she could wade out a little deeper one more time she went out a little too far and fell completely in (I think she fell off the end of the boat ramp). I was prepared to go in after her, but still got a little wetter than I would have liked. Oh well. She had fun and I think “falling in the lake” was her favorite part of the whole trip. Some days I think my little S would really like to be a fish instead of a little girl.


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