20 Art Projects for Toddlers: Simple Budget-Friendly Crafts!

As my baby is soon to be graduating into toddlerhood, she’s getting into all kinds of predicaments. Most recently she tried climbing on top of her stroller… Yep. I still have no clue how she thought she was going to pull that one off! Needless to say, I’m starting to need some art projects for toddlers handy in my back pocket ASAP.

This is a guest post by Rose Anne from Miss Rosalina.

20 fun and simple art projects for toddlers

Benefits of doing art projects with toddlers

“Art projects for toddlers are a fantastic way to encourage creativity, fine motor skills, independent play, visual-spatial development, and so much more.” 

These 20 art projects are designed to encourage :

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Play-based learning
  • Nature exploration

Plus I’ve made sure these are budget-friendly (most can be found in your craft box or kitchen), easy (don’t be afraid to make swaps), and diverse (messy and mess-free options!).

1. DIY Paint (3 ingredients)

A lot of the children’s paints available today either come with a list of 1000 ingredients, or the non-toxic options are so pricey.

This project ensures your kids are playing with clean materials while experimenting with different colors, textures, and consistencies.

What You’ll Need:

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Food coloring


  • Mix a little bit of your flour with, water, and food coloring together (and that’s it!).
  • The creative play is in your hands with this one. Have your toddlers eyeball it, get messy, & see what works!

2. Nature Mandala

Engaging in mandala art with your toddler can be a meaningful experience that allows them to express gratitude, honor the seasons, and learn about the different items in nature.

What You’ll Need:

  • Any natural materials (think rocks, bark, flowers, leaves, even grass or mud!)


  • First, place your favorite nature item in the center.
  • Next, create circles moving outward from the center by arranging your remaining items around the central one until you’ve formed a beautiful circular design.

3. Kid Affirmation Cards

Designing affirmation cards with your toddler is a beautiful way to encourage self-love, confidence, and resilience.

What You’ll Need:

  • Box of index cards
  • Pens / Markers / Pencils


  • First, come up with a list of affirmations with your toddler.
  • Next, write them out on the cards for them.
  • Lastly, design them together however you wish! You can even hang or tape them up for cute uplifting decor.

Affirmation Ideas :

  • I have great ideas
  • I am kind
  • I can help others
  • I am blessed
  • I can do anything I want
  • It’s okay to make mistakes
  • I love myself
  • I am brave
Play dough art project for toddlers

4. Homemade Play Dough (2 ingredients!)

What You’ll Need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Lotion
  • Food coloring (optional!)


  • Mix everything together to your preferred consistency.
  • Make your very own sculpture or cut our fun shapes!

5. Painting on Textures 

This is a great sensory opportunity for your little one to explore painting on different types of surfaces.

What You’ll Need:

  • Your favorite paints
  • Anything fun to paint over (think foil, paper towels, tissue paper, bubble wrap, etc.)


  • Paint over each texture, taking time to notice how each one feels and looks different

6. Ocean Paper Plate

Feeling an under-the-sea party? This art project for toddlers develops their fine motor skills and creativity!

What You’ll Need:

  • Hues of blue & green paint
  • Decorative items (tissue paper, googly eyes, foam shapes)
  • Pre-cut fish shape


  • First, paint the paper plate blue for your ocean
  • Next, have them glue on the fish then decorate their sea however they want!

7. Animal Plate

What You’ll Need:

  • Paper plate
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • A paint brush
  • Wiggle eyes
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons or colored markers
  • Decorative supplies (glitter, pom poms, yarn)


  • Have your toddler choose their favorite animal.
  • Pre-cut the ears, nose, and all other head parts for them.
  • Have your little one paste them on the plate.
  • Then, allow them to paint & decorate it to their heart’s desire.

8. Floor Maze

Not only is this art project for toddlers an incredibly simple way to keep them busy but also has the added benefit of enhancing their problem-solving abilities.

What You’ll Need:

  • Posterboard
  • Pack of pencils or pens


  • Cover the floor with poster board.
  • Allow your toddler to use the pencils or pens to create a large maze on the poster board.
Elbow pasta necklace art project for toddlers

9. Painted Pasta Necklace

What You’ll Need:

  • Pasta noodles (anything cheap from the dollar store)
  • Yarn
  • Tape


  • Have your toddler paint their noodles however they wish.
  • After the painted noodles have dried, put the yarn through them, tie them together, & voila!

Now they have a super cool necklace to wear plus experienced a very early introduction to jewelry design!

10. Citrus Printing 

I know, I know! This definitely won’t be the easiest cleanup… but it’s a fun sensory-inspired technique to introduce printmaking. 

What You’ll Need:

  • Any citrus fruits
  • Tempera paint (or regular paint)
  • Construction paper
  • Paper paint


  • First, place the paint on a paper plate and cut the fruit into stampable shapes.
  • Invite your toddler to dip the cut fruit into the paint and press it onto their construction paper.

11. Seasonal Collage

This easy art project is perfect for toddlers to learn about the different seasons.

What You’ll Need:


  • Offer a selection of seasonal images for your toddler to tape onto their construction paper.

12. Stick Rainbow 

What You’ll Need

  • Piece of construction paper
  • 7 popsicle sticks or craft sticks
  • Cotton balls
  • Glue


  • First, color each popsicle stick one of the colors of the rainbow.
  • Assemble the colored sticks vertically onto a page side-by-side & glue them on.
  • Finally, glue on the cotton balls at the top of your sticks & now you have a beautiful cloudy rainbow!

13. Handprint craft

What You’ll Need:

  • Markers or Sharpies
  • Construction Paper
  • Decorative items (Paintbrushes and paint, glitter, pom poms, etc.)


  • Trace out your toddler’s hand onto the construction paper.
  • Have them fill in their hand print with paint, glitter, or any decorative items.
  • To top it off you could write their name in it and send it as a gift!

14. Rock Painting

Your toddler will love this art project as they paint designs over the rough and smooth textures of the rocks.

What You’ll Need:

  • Paint and paintbrush
  • A wide variety of different-shaped rocks (or even sea shells if you live near the seashore!)


  • Ensure that the rocks are clean and dry before painting. This will help the paint adhere better.
  • Encourage your toddler to paint the rocks however they like – they can make patterns, and shapes, or simply cover the rocks with colors.
  • You can introduce different brush strokes or techniques, like dotting or swirling the paint, to add variety to their creations.

Side note: Stickers are a fun add-on to help develop the pincer grasp!

Toddler painting cardboard box house

15. Cardboard Craft

What You’ll Need:

  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Paints and paintbrush
  • Colored paper
  • Glue
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Stickers
  • Old cardboard boxes of various sizes (from packages, moving boxes, or any other source)


  • Engage your toddler in a conversation about what they want to create. Encourage them to use their imagination. Ask questions like, “What do you want to make today? A castle, a car, or something else?”
  • Help your toddler create the basic shape of what they want to create.
  • Provide the art supplies and let your toddler decorate the cardboard box according to their vision. They can draw windows, and doors, add colors, or even glue on cut-out shapes and pictures from magazines.

Fun Ideas:

  • Boat
  • Spaceship
  • House
  • Castle
  • Car
  • Dog
  • Helmet
  • Shield
  • Sword

16. Rainy Day Art 

What You’ll Need:

  • Washable markers
  • Watercolor paper / waterproof notepads


  • First, have your toddler draw whatever they like on their watercolor paper
  • Next, have them set their drawing outside in the rain
  • They’ll be amazed as they watch their painting transform from the rain effect

17. Flower Sun-catcher

What you’ll need:

  • Paper plates
  • Pressed flower(s)
  • Sticky-backed plastic or transparent contact paper.
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue
  • Yarn string
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher


  • Cut a large circle out from the center of the paper plate and stick transparent contact paper to fully cover the hole.
  • Encourage your toddler to glue flowers onto the paper plate’s rim and the contact paper, creating a floral collage
  • Add bits of tissue paper to the sticky side of the contact paper to add more color
  • Punch a hole in on the top and attach a string for hanging
  • Now you have a beautiful flower catcher!

Side note: You can even turn this into a flower hunt (see if they can find certain colors, or print out a flower chart to see how many you can find!)

Toddler art project: tie dye shirt

18. Tie Dye Shirts

Okay, so hear me out! Even though this art project requires more effort, it’s a whole lot of fun, it’s something you can get use out of, and it massively boosts creative confidence.

Side note: You could skip all this & just buy a toddler tie-dye kit

What You’ll Need:

  • White T-shirt (ideally 100% cotton)
  • Water
  • Cleaning gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • Fabric dye


  • Scrunch up a clean, white shirt. It’s best to use a 100% cotton shirt for the best tie-dye results.
  • To create different sections on the shirt, use rubber bands.
  • Apply different colors of fabric dye to the scrunched-up and banded sections of the shirt.
  • Allow the shirt to sit for several hours, or as per the dye’s instructions.
  • After the waiting period, carefully remove the rubber bands and gently rinse the shirt under cold running water. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear, and the excess dye is washed out.
  • Allow to dry and voila!

19. Bath Time Painting & Coloring

I love how this bathtime art project can be used to energize or unwind my toddler. It also creates a daily routine into a beautiful ritual.

What You’ll Need:

  • Bathtub markers/ crayons


  • Night time? Turn on relaxing music, dim lights ( think red or starry projector) & have them paint away
  • Morning? Turn on their favorite dance songs and have a “bath painting party!

20. Cotton Ball Craft

This is a lovely sensory activity for your little one as they explore the soft texture of the cotton wool while encouraging fine motor skills 

What You’ll Need:

  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Any color paper
  • Googly eyes, strings, etc.
  • Cotton wool


  • First, grab your construction paper & cut out different shapes of your choice (think animals, plants, mythical creatures!)
  • Next, have your little one take their glue stick and cover the shape with cotton balls
  • To finish it off glue on the googly eyes and other decorative adds you wish

About the author: Rose is a mother, expressive arts facilitator, and owner of the creative wellness blog, Miss Rosalina. Her passion is helping mothers navigate the multifaceted experience of motherhood through creativity and self-care practices.

Visit her blog or check her out on Pinterest!

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