Monday, December 12, 2016

5 Fun Methods of Open-Ended Art Activity

By Guest Blogger: Azalia Suhaimi of Littlest Hands

I have always loved creating and the joy that comes in completing an art project. It came as no surprise that when I became a mother, I naturally had to introduce that same joy and beauty to my child. Only to discover a different kind of joy that is simply priceless. That it is all truly in the process and not the product.

I could plan and intend to make a paper plate monkey craft for example, but my two-year-old could turn it into an entirely different activity of imaginative play whereby brown paint becomes puddles, and paintbrushes become happy stick figures jumping on muddy puddles. There may or may not be a paper plate monkey craft at the end of the session, and that’s fine. Because it ‘s a beautiful process and time spent together. She gets to freely explore her imagination without the limitations of my own ideas. We get to engage in a fun discussion throughout the process as she expands her vocabulary. And most importantly, we get to create more memories together.

Here are some of our favorite open-ended art activities with no specific end products, but ones that have certainly brought us many fun memories together:
1.) Stamping with Sponge

Or make that fun-shaped sponge. I would cut these sponges into easy shapes such as hearts, circles or triangles, then pass them to my toddler with some paint and paper. And just like that, she’d have endless fun. While the toddler would enjoy the sensory experience of paint & sponge, and the joy of stamping them around while practicing some fine motor skills, we could also bring it up a notch by turning the session into a shape-recognition activity. As they stamp, we name the shapes together.

2.) Stamping with Cardboard Tubes/Toilet Paper Rolls

Again, make these fun-shaped ones. We could bend and shape the ends of the cardboard tubes into our desired shapes. Pass them to our toddler together with some paint and paper, and let the stamping joy begin! This too could become a shape-recognition activity.

3.) Stamping with Toys

You could use Lego or dinosaur figurines or anything up to your imagination, really. We chose some wild animal figurines and turned it into a footprint-stamping activity. While it was meant to be an open-ended art activity, with my toddler truly having a ball soaking those animals in paint and stamping them endlessly, the end product turned out pretty wonderful too! As there were different shapes of footprints with multiple vibrant colors involved, I really could turn these prints into postcards or wrapping papers! The best part about this activity is it really uses your imagination to no end. We played pretend with these animals, I introduced her to the names and sounds of each animal, she told me they were “swimming” and then “jumping in muddy puddles” – it really was a limitless fun of imaginative play!

4.) Painting with Pom-Poms Clipped on Clothes Pegs

We love to get adventurous with our painting methods while creating art other than using the conventional paintbrush. One of our favorite DIY paintbrush or stamping tool includes pom-poms clipped on clothes pegs. Pom-poms are such staple items in the world of toddler activities, so it’s only fair and complete to incorporate them into our art activities as well. They can be used for mere stamping fun over hours of an open-ended art session. Or they can be used to create a specific craft as well, like this paper-plate watermelon, whereby my toddler helped to stamp some pom-poms soaked with red and green paint on those paper-plate halves.

5.) Painting with Nature

Perhaps the best combination ever; nature and art. As we go on nature adventures with our kids, don’t forget to add on the fun by collecting some nature items to bring back for even more adventures – with art.  We could use leaves or branches or rocks. Over here we used some fallen leaves. The list of art activities that we could do with them is endless. We could stamp them using some paint on paper, and we could even paint on the leaves themselves. Over here, we attempted a leaf silhouette spray-painting activity, whereby we placed some leaves on papers, and spray-painted our way all over them. Let them dry, pick up the leaves, and voila! A masterpiece.

About Azalia:

Azalia Suhaimi is the founder of LittlestHands (@littlesthands on Instagram), a social media platform that shares all sorts of toddler activities to aid parents and caregivers from all over the world.  Learn more about her at