Yesterday was Monday. Tomorrow is Wednesday… That means today is ToesDay.
Whenever I host parent-child storytimes, I always include an art activity. One of the biggest hits is footprint art.
Though charming to us adults, some kids won’t like it. Won’t tolerate it. Having a wet, slippery foot that needs to be washed will send some children running. Which is okay — you can make graffiti art from the footprints they leave behind.
For those whose children will enjoy ToesDay, here are some ways to jam it full of learning:
Make it seasonal.
- Brown footprint + red dot, scribble, or button on the heel of the footprint = our favorite reindeer! Twisty pretzels, broken just right, make 3-dimensional antlers that you can help your child glue onto the paper, on top of the big toe, and the little toe.
- Black paper + white paint = a Halloween ghost. The heel of the footprint becomes the ghost’s head, and stick-on stars make the black night shimmer.
Make it about the process.
- Involve children with gathering the supplies. Talk about what the purpose of each item you plan to use. Discuss the field trip to the school supply store you might make to purchase the paint, or the stickers.
- Parents often put on a show for kids, without letting kids be aware of the “before, during, and after” work. In other words, the planning stage, the part of the process that requires following instructions and rules, and the equally important time devoted to responsibility and clean-up.
To keep these activities easy, simple, and fun, remember:
- Use a heavy paper, like construction paper or cardstock. Cardboard is a good medium, too.
- Use a sponge to dab paint onto your child’s foot. A brush will tickle too much.
- Use only non-toxic fingerpaint.
- Keep choking hazards away from younger kids. Independent completion is great, when a kid is developmentally ready to remember to be safe. Buttons, pretzels, marker tops, stickers, and construction paper cut-outs are suitable for independent use by children who are past the mouth exploration stage — that usually means 3 years and older.
- Let each child particpate on his or her own terms.
- Kids who don’t like to be painted might enjoy passing out the wet wipes to those who are in need of a tidy-up. It has always been interesting to me to see which kids want to help clean others’ tootsies. That’s another topic for another day, but developing empathy is a milestone, too.
Display the art immediately after having your child sign his or her name (initial, squiggle, or drop of drool) — that’s what great artists do, they sign their work. Send some of the creations to grandparents, and safeguard some for a memory book. But most of all, enjoy your job as a parenting maestro.
Check back tomorrow for more on The Art and Work of Creative Parenting series.
Read more Motor Development posts