Destructive Artsy Things To Do With Toddlers

When people sign up for my newsletter I ask them what their biggest challenge is for connecting with kids. One thing that comes up frequently in people's replies is, “What do I do with my toddler?”

{good question!}                                                 

Things- to-Do with Toddlers

Right now I am SMACK in the middle of toddlerhood with my youngest.  At one and a half she is busy, curious and DESTRUCTIVE.  Seriously, I think she is two times as destructive as her brothers were at this age (I bet she realizes that I am often distracted with an older kid.)  I mean, we used to have 12 matching mugs- we have one of those left.  I actually picked up four bowls at the dollar store last week because she's been so successful at destroying bowls that we were eating out of empty yogurt containers.

So, my first things-to-do with toddlers post is all about destruction:

My one year old wants to explore her world and right now that means taking it apart.  I've started to use this to my advantage when we're doing art projects.


Destructive Artsy Things to Do with Toddlers:

  • Pull apart an old art project.
  • Rip Paper.
  • Dip paper shreds in water.
  • Pour water over sidewalk chalk art.
  • Crumple paper- throw it at something!
  • Make a mark and show your toddler how to scribble over it.
  • Let your toddler color their high chair tray.  Delight them by showing how a washcloth wipes it away.
  • Show your toddler how to wipe away marks on a dry erase board.
  • Rip more paper.


Destructive Toddler Art In Action

Recently I'd made a sample picture for my four year old- showed him how he could glue rice onto the page and add stickers, nothing fancy.  This sample picture proved to be the perfect destruction activity for my toddler.

I handed her the picture and showed her how she could pick the rice off the page-
OOH, this she had to try.


Things to do with toddlers- glue

  Gluing is fun. UN-gluing is more fun.

I set out a bowl in case she wanted to put the bits in it- YES, that was a good idea.  Soon enough she discovered she could rip off the stickers too.  Her destruction kept her busy and happy, and satisfied her curiosity while I was able to continue doing art with her older brother.

Rip and tear!

She also recently enjoyed gluing folded pieces of paper down (that part was OK…)

The real fun came when she discovered how nice it was to rip these glues on pieces back off the paper.  This of course, inspired a whole bunch of paper ripping and she thoroughly destroyed the art project we'd made moments before.

Ripping paper is one of the most simple and satisfying activities for my toddler.  You can extend this activity by giving a bowl of water to dunk the paper pieces in, or giving an old wipes container or kleenex box for them to push the pieces into.

Things to do with toddlers- ripping paper We made a collage. She made a pile of ripped up paper.

Is your toddler in a paper ripping phase? Have you found things to do with your toddler that involve destruction in a fun way, that lets them explore and allows you to relax? Let me know!

For more simple things to do with toddlers, don't miss the Toddler Years Must Do List.

Alissa Zorn stands near a pond with an orange shirt on wearing a black button down over that.
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Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.