Gather art supplies for your 1 year old to nurture creativity! Here are the best non toxic arts and crafts supplies and toys for toddlers.
Comic books, handmade puppets, decorations for the home. These are some of the creations my kids have made out of miscellaneous art supplies we have lying around the house. Art has been a part of their everyday agenda, even when they were toddlers who could barely hold a pencil.
Their art experience was further cemented when they went to a Montessori preschool. Every week, they’d come home with a project that we’d hang and display on the wall. I’d then try to find library books about what they’d created (books about snowmen after they came home with snowmen crafts, for instance).
I had learned about the benefits of open ended play, particularly with providing kids with art supplies. With the freedom to create what they want, they can explore, get curious, and find no limits to their imagination.
Except how do you do that when your child is just a year old?
Maybe you’re worried he’ll put everything in his mouth, or that he won’t know how to follow directions. Perhaps you’re dreading the mess he’ll make (gobs of glue on carpet, anyone?). And what constitutes “art,” anyway? What if all he does is draw lines and poke at the play dough?
Art supplies for 1 year old kids
Rest assured that you can start building art supplies for a 1 year old. The key is to think of art not as a finished product, but as an experience and even practice. Leave the turkey hands and the Valentine boxes for older kids—for now, it’s all about getting used to creating art and exposing him to these tools.
And of course, you’ll want to monitor him the whole time, both for his safety and to avoid messes. Don’t leave him alone with a jar of paint or a bowl of dried beans, for instance.
Start making projects and crafts and stock a small yet versatile area in your home with supplies. That way, you can have the basics on hand for impromptu art sessions without having to plan each one beforehand.
Perhaps you’re interested in sensory activities for 1 year olds and would like him to explore different textures. Or you want him to create artwork to give to family and friends or display around the house. You’ll find so many benefits of introducing him to art at this age.
All that said, what are the best art supplies for a 1 year old he’ll actually get to use and enjoy? Take a look at my suggestions below. Many of these can be used in some way even for kids this age:
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- Blank white paper. Regular letter-size paper works, as does larger, easel-size ones you can attach or tape to a surface.
- Construction paper. You can’t go wrong with a wide range of colored paper. Have a stack with various colors on hand.
- Tissue paper. Save these from gift bags, as they can be fun add-ons to craft projects. Use them to tear and ball into tiny pieces, or to add layers to artwork.
- Sandpaper. A soft sandpaper makes for fantastic textures you can cut and create with. Plus, it offers a different sensory experience for your child.
- Blank cards and envelopes. Perfect for sending mail or attaching as gift cards.
- Paper bags. Lunch bag sizes lend themselves well for puppets, gift bags, and general containers to sort.
- Coloring books. Your 1 year old won’t be coloring in the lines yet, but coloring books can be a fun way to use crayons, markers, and pencils.
- A container to hold paper. An inbox tray, large folder, or box work well.
- Hole punchers. Hole punching in fun shapes gives your child a fun way to add dimension to his art.
- Scissors. Don’t forget kid-friendly scissors. Start with a thick paper that’s cut to about a quarter of a sheet to make cutting easier.
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- Crayons. Get these in sizes for toddlers so your child can grip them easily. Many also come with a triangle grip to make holding them even easier. And as you might already guess, make sure these, and all coloring tools, are washable.
- Paint. Painting is a fantastic activity for toddlers because they don’t even need to use a brush—fingers work fine! Still, feel free to vary the types of paint, from finger paint to watercolors. You can also get brushes in different sizes and textures.
- Pencils. Whether regular or colored, pencils are a staple in every art corner. I love these eco-friendly recycled ones.
- Markers. Another fun tool to work with, but definitely make sure they’re washable. These particular kinds are for toddlers.
- Sponges. These offer different textures to paint. You can even cut shapes from the sponges (like a heart or circle) to “stamp” paint on.
- Stamps and ink pad. These make for fun pictures using simple stamps. Make sure to keep the ink pad covered so it doesn’t dry out.
- Dot dabbers. Your child can practice holding tools with a dot dabber. Instead of expecting him to write or paint, he can grip it in his fingers and dot large circles.
- Smock. Make sure he’s donned in a smock, especially for messy art like paint, markers, or glue.
- Feathers. Many craft stores will sell packets of feathers that can attached to your child’s artwork.
- Googly eyes. Decorate his creations with fun eyeballs! Large ones like these will be easier to work with for now.
- Dry pasta. Set aside a few pieces of dry pasta for art. Small ones like macaroni can be used to glue, while larger ones like penne or rigatoni are perfect for stringing.
- Beads and buttons. Find large beads to create with for now, working your way to smaller beads down the line. Gather spare buttons that you can use for crafts. Dried beans work well, too.
- Pom poms. You can find these in many craft stores, in various colors and even textures. Get 1-inch pom poms like these.
- Stickers. These are fantastic to start practicing fine motor skills with, as they allow your child to pinch and peel them off with his fingers.
- Pipe cleaners. A staple in every art corner, pipe cleaners are versatile for decorating, connecting, and shaping.
Fabrics and textures
- Felt. Use felt for all sorts of decorations, as well as storytelling time with cut-out characters.
- Small pieces of fabric. Have old pieces of clothes, towels, or rags that are going in the trash? Cut them into small pieces in various sizes to play with.
- Yarn. Grab a few small balls of yarn to decorate artwork.
- Play dough. You can’t go wrong with play dough! Work them into your art or use them to sculpt. Of course, make sure these are non-toxic (or make some at home!).
- Glue sticks. These allow you to attach items without the mess. The downside is that they won’t hold heavy or bulky items in place, and they won’t work on every material (cotton balls, for instance).
- Elmer’s glue. While gooey and messy, these have a wider range of use. You can even pour it into a small container and use a brush to dab with.
- Tape. We regularly use clear tape as well as painter’s tape for art projects and construction.
- Gluing tool. This of course should not be handled by your toddler, but should you need a surefire way to secure something, a gluing tool is the way to go. Keep it handy in your area, but away from his reach. I suggest plugging it in in a different room so he doesn’t accidentally touch it.
Household items and equipment
- Roasting pan or baking sheet. These will come in useful to contain art projects, from paint to beads.
- Ice cube trays. Want to pour paint into smaller containers? Ice cube trays let you paint without leaving the jars open. Don’t have a tray? Save those “sauce” cups you get from takeout and delivery—they’re perfect for holding paint.
- Leaves and pinecones. Bring the outside in with items found in nature. Leaves, pinecones, rocks, and twigs add so much to your child’s art.
- Cotton balls. Tear apart or glue right on, cotton balls can turn many art projects into fun and festive ones.
- Cotton swabs. Q-Tips can be used in so many ways, from gluing them on paper to using them as paintbrushes.
- Wipes and paper towels. Don’t forget to have these handy for clean ups!
- Popsicle sticks. Save those popsicle sticks (or buy them by the pack)! Use these for construction, or even to stir and mix.
Best practices for creating art with a 1 year old
- Focus on the process, not perfection. You’re not out to produce a perfect, finished product, or even one you had expected. You might want your child to create a heart-shaped collage of red paper pieces when he’d rather stick them all over the sheet—and that’s okay. He got to experience a fun, positive art project with you.
- Monitor and guide. While kids this age are starting to explore, they also still need to be monitored and guided. Organize your area so that items you’d rather he not touch are out of reach. For instance, store tiny beads and pom poms in boxes on the top shelf, but keep trays of paper and fabric pieces below.
- Find a place for your child’s art. Designate areas in your home to rotate art pieces. You could hang a cork board or a 3D frame to rotate his art pieces, or tape the art pieces on the wall.
Get more tips:
- Easy Arts and Crafts for 1 Year Olds (No Complicated Instructions!)
- How to Encourage Open Ended Play (And Why It’s Important)
- How to Raise a Bright Child
- Montessori Activities for 1-2 Year Olds
- Things to Teach a 1 Year Old
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