“ Lots of fun and lots of mess! Tell us about your arty ideas for entertaining little ones. „
As a mum and a teacher, i know that happy and healthy kids are those that are able to express themselves in a number of ways. Allowing them to make some mess occasionally whether by tipping out the toys, or getting engrossed in an art activities really gets them to learn quickly about communication and cause and effect, all while they think they are having fun.
While i am sure every mum wants the best for their kid, i am not sure we all know how to go about giving them opportunities to be creative, and knowing what is appropriate for the age of the child. I found with my first child, i was a bit reluctant to get too messy, and i was also scared about what he might eat or damage while we were doing these activities.
By the time my second little one came along only 18 months later, i now had to also think about how to do activities which i could possibly adapt so they could both join in at once.
My initial attempts at art were not overly exciting, but nonetheless, it was a start. Once my baby was able to sit in a high chair and use a pincer grip, i cellotaped some paper to the tray, and gave him some chunky crayons to let him see what happened when he moved his hand about. There are some great crayons about. Some are designed to be worn on the end of your finger so you can draw with them, and a small child could also hold one of these in a fist or with two hands.
As my little one reached one he went to nursery while i went to work, and they were always doing acitivites with paint with him, so i invested in some for home. The early learning centre again sell a great range of ready mixed paints that are thick enough to do hand prints and finger painting, and work equally well with a chunky or fine paint brush. Each colour is £1 and comes in a large bottle which lasts a long time.
This time we got a decent waterproof craft apron, and again sat at the table with the paper stuck down, and i started by putting blobs of different colours onto the paper which could be smeared around with hands or brushes. I attempted this with my second child when he was about 9 months old, and he had a great time. He ended up with a bright blue mouth, but he was grinning and really enjoying it. At this stage he was too young to get an apron to fit, so i used one of those bibs that have long sleeves and a solid front. We kept this just for painting, and while it was not fully waterproof, it was good as it fit well, and he could join in fully.
I also started doing some simple gluing and sticking. We invested in a pot of PVA glue, and used old magazines and christmas cards to make collage pictures. When it was autumn, we collected autumn leaves, sticking these to the paper to make a very colourful picture.
My children have a great fondness for playdough. I don't like the feel of it much myself, but they love rolling it into shapes with a mini rolling pin, using shaped cutters to make animals, letters and shapes, and more recently sticking things into it such as wooden matchsticks and pipe cleaners to see what kind of effect it has. I used to worry a lot about play dough. My youngest up until about 2 had a tendency to eat it. I researched it, and it was not going to make him ill, so i then relaxed a bit. I found it would dry out sometimes, and we could quickly solve this with a bit of water being kneaded into it.
At Christmas time, i found a recipe on the internet to make salt dough. A mix of salt, flour and water. When made into shapes, these can then be baked at low heat in the oven, and they go hard. The shapes can then be painted. We made some decorations for the tree this way.
As my children have got bigger they have also liked being creative with food. We have made pictures by gluing pasta onto paper, or used long spaghetti strands to paint. I have also given them flour to draw shapes in with their fingers. This idea could also be done with some sand.
We have also made our own musical instruments. The easiest item to make is a musical shaker. Save a drinks bottle with a screw cap. I then look to see what we have in the pantry to put in the shaker. This is usually a dried item such as lentils, chickpeas or butter beans. The children can then put whatever they want iside the bottle. This is good because as well as being noisy when you shake it, they can see the different colours in the clear bottle, and also watch as the bigger items go to the bottom and the smaller ones end up near the top.
In the summer time we take art outside. I have bought them some chalk so they can do colourful drawings and writing on the paving slabs on the patio. We have also tried doing etchings of surfaces that are textured like the leaves and tree bark in the garden.
Children are very willing to get messy. I have found with my two that they want to get on and do lots of art actiivities, but they sometimes lack a bit of inspiration about what they want to do. If i say to them, let's glue this on here, they will take my initiative and start telling me it is a fish they are making or a car. Sometimes they see an idea on the television and they will ask themselves to make something.
Art does not have to be overly expensive either. I have built up our supplies over a few years, and the only thing i have needed to replace is the PVA glue which dried out. I found a good apron was a must. Play dough and salt dough can be made from kitchen ingredients very cheaply if you want to find a recipe online. Any old yoghurt pots, bubble wrap, christmas cards, polystyrene bead packaging can be saved in a craft box until you want to use them. This is the material most nursery schools beg for.
While i am still not a fan of all the mess, i have enjoyed lots of craft activities with my children. Tidying up after two small toddlers is not easy, but i am always pleased we have tried it when i see their happy faces and the fun they are having.
We then have the problem of what to do with all the creations. We put some pictures on the fridge, and display other paintings on the dining room wall. I can't keep or display it all though, so my top parenting tip is we take digital pictures of what they have made before it gets recycled. They can then look at these on the computer and it is nice to look back and see how they have got more skilled in their art work over time.
All i can say is try it, even if you aren't that creative. Being messy is fun. (I'm going to rate it 4 stars, as i am not fond of washing out paint brushes and scraping up play dough that has been trodden into the carpet. )
Children strive to learn, and their minds need to be stimulated. Children learn through play, and the more activities that they are introduced to the more their minds can expand. Art and crafts is an open-ended activity that captures a child's interest and sparks creativity, as well as having many educational benefits. Creative play and art activities allow a child to express themselves freely, and learn about the world around them. Once a child can sit unaided and has mastered the pincer grasp then they are ready to be introduced to art and craft activities, under supervision. Art and craft activities don't have to be expensive, as many activities only require a few household items, or basic supplies.
Many of these ideas have been tried and tested over the years when my daughter was younger, and now I am once again enjoying experiencing these activities with my three year old son. Creative play is a fundamental part of our day, and it is an activity that is always evolving and adapting as my son grows and develops. Creative play encourages development, and aids in learning many new skills all whilst having fun. Art and craft activities require mess, and this indicates how much fun a child is having. Be prepared and set up an area for these activities, and cover areas to protect surfaces. I hope you can enjoy some of these fun arts and craft activities, and enjoy getting messy!
>> Home-made Play dough<<
Home-made play dough is far superior to conventional store bought play dough, as it has a nicer consistency and texture, as well as being more pliable, plus it doesn't have that sticky feeling. Not to mention that it is pretty much odourless. The smell and texture of most commercial play dough actually makes my son gag, and as such I avoid buying it. Another advantage to making your own is that it is inexpensive, and you can have fun experimenting with colours and textures. Once the play dough is prepared it actually lasts a good amount of time, providing it is stored correctly. The recipe is so simple, and it consists of very few basic ingredients.
~Basic Play Dough Recipe~
* 1 cup flour
* 1/2 cup salt
* 1 cup water
* 2 tablespoons oil
Simply mix the flour, salt, and water in a saucepan along with the oil, place over a medium heat, constantly stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the water, and continue mixing it until it binds and turns into a firm consistency. Once it has turned into a solid mound, it is ready to be turned onto a board to allow it to cool. Once it has cooled enough knead the dough until it reaches the expected consistency.
Once the dough is created, it is ready to be played with. After each play session store the dough in bags or containers and refrigerate to keep it in good condition. Once the dough starts to lose its elasticity, or when it becomes grubby it is time to throw it away and make a fresh batch. The simple dough can be adapted and transformed to create different textures or colours. Simply add a few drops of food colouring to the mix to create different colours, and to change the texture or appearance, try adding glitter, sand, or grains to give a different consistency. Younger children that tend to still mouth objects will of course need supervision, to ensure that it is not eaten. Whilst it is safe to eat, it is still best not to be consumed, especially if it has been stored for a while.
Play dough is a fun open-ended activity that youngsters can enjoy once they are able to manipulate the dough. Playing with and manipulating the dough is very therapeutic, and it has many educational benefits. It will improve a child's fine motor skills, and dexterity. It will also aid in strengthening hand muscles which prepares a child for learning to write. It promotes sensory development, and improves hand-eye coordination. In addition to this, a child learns about colours and textures, and how to manipulate the dough to make different shapes. Creating different models, and shapes from dough stimulates a child's imagination, which promotes creative play.
>>Create Pictures from Natural Objects<<
Producing pictures of any kind is always fun for little ones, as it gives great satisfaction. There are many ideas for creating pictures using different methods. Using natural objects is a fun way to create artistic pictures, whilst exploring nature. Firstly, go on a nature walk and collect objects that have fallen such as leaves, acorns, and twigs, and any other items that you come across. These make an interesting talking point, and throughout the seasons findings will change, so it provides the ideal opportunity to also introduce little ones to the seasons, and the changes.
This is a great fun activity that can be enjoyed by youngsters that are walking, as they will have fun looking for objects and collecting them. Once a collection has been accumulated, then arrange the items on a table, this presents the ideal time to discuss the objects and the colours. These can then be affixed to card, or thick construction paper. The objects can be arranged however the child likes, and for older children they may wish to use them to create a scene. This is an activity that can be enjoyed from a young age, and it can be continued as the child gets older. Once a child is older, they can also communicate the objects, and once they are able to read, you can create a list of objects to go search for, young readers will of course need some help with this, and this is a nice way to encourage them to recognise words.
Other than using objects from outdoors, you can also search around the home for items that can be used to create pictures. Items such as pasta, rice, or any dried foods make an excellent means for creating pictures. Once a picture has been constructed, the young artist can then have fun painting over the objects to add some colour. This is an activity that is best suited to older children that are not likely to mouth the dried food; as if they are ingested they could pose a choking hazard. As the seasons change, so will the activity, as there will be different objects to search for. This keeps this activity interesting, and fresh, as it is ever changing.
This activity promotes many educational aspects, from learning about the seasons, colours, shapes, and the objects can also be counted. Name recognition, and word association as objects listed are found. Creating images using the objects will develop creativity, and imagination. This activity also has plenty of scope to discuss their findings, and the changes in the seasons. Completing the task will give a child a sense of accomplishment, and this will of course boost their self esteem.
Junk modelling is the most inexpensive activity, simply because you can reuse anything from around the home, this is a great way to recycle items. If you have young children, then it is a good idea to keep a box for clean empty unusual packages, and boxes, so that when it comes to making models you will have all the supplies needed. Junk modelling is an activity that can be enjoyed by children of all ages. Younger children will enjoy constructing simpler models, and as they get older they can create bigger and more detailed models. Collect all of your packaging from food, tubes from tin foil and materials from around your home to make models. These items can be used to create all different things, from robots to castles. With older children you can also make gifts for birthdays and Christmas, people love homemade gifts especially grandma and grandpa.
Models can be created from using all manner of materials found from around the home. Once a model is complete it can be painted, or decorated using supplies from the art box such as glitter, coloured scraps of paper, or whatever a child wants to use for decoration. This is an open-ended activity that can be adapted to fit the skills and age of the child. Younger children can produce smaller simple models with preselected items with assistance, and older children can use their own imagination and find the items for the model. This can also be a seasonal and holiday activity, as you can challenge your child to create thematic models to fit in with the season or holiday. Alternatively, why not create some musical instruments from all the junk.
This hands-on activity sparks creativity and allows a child to use their imagination. Hand-eye coordination is developed as well. A child learns about shape recognition, and textures. It promotes thinking, planning, and problem solving. Most importantly it allows a child freedom of expression. Motor skills are greatly developed as they manipulate larger boxes and smaller objects to create a model. Along with this, it encourages recycling from a young age. The finished product gives a child a great sense of achievement, as they have created something from basic supplies.
A popular activity with children of all ages that never grows old is painting. This requires little equipment and is inexpensive, however, it can prove to be messy. Ensure to cover areas where you don't want paint, and use a plastic table cover to spread over the table or floor, if you haven't got an art easel. Either provide an apron, or play clothes to ensure that there's no worry over paint getting on good clothes. Weather permitting this is an ideal outdoor activity, as a child can really have fun painting and you don't need to worry about any mess created, as it will all wash away. You only need the primary colours to begin with, as these can be mixed together to create other colours.
This is an activity that can be enjoyed from a young age, as little ones can start out with finger paints, and then progress onto ordinary readymade liquid paints. Painting is a versatile activity that can be used in many ways, from finger painting, to sponge painting. There are various methods in which paint can be used to produce artistic creations. You can use various objects to roll through paint to make prints, from potato prints to sponge printing. Hand and feet prints are particularly precious, and make a nice keepsake. Paints can be used to create simple patterns, and as a child grows they can have fun creating pictures with paints.
Painting has many educational values, and it is an activity that children of all ages can experience. It promotes hand-eye coordination, and self expression. It promotes colour recognition as children experiment with colours. They also get to explore shapes and lines as they produce a picture. Children also get to learn how colours mix, and what colours are needed to form a new colour. Painting develops fine motor skills, and grasping a paint brush strengthens hand muscles.
Quite possibly the most common and popular art activity with children is drawing, as this can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime with no preparation required. All that is needed is some construction paper and a set of colours to draw with. This is a versatile open-ended activity that keeps a child's interest time and time again. There are many art mediums that can be used to allow a child to experiment and experience different ways of creating marks. Once a child has mastered the pincer grasp then they are ready for some chunky wax crayons, and this is one of the first experience of art they may encounter.
There is a vast array of art mediums for a child to experiment with. Introducing new mediums gives the activity a new dimension, and it allows them to experience different writing instruments. Along with simple line drawing and creating patterns, or colouring pictures, provide different textured surfaces to colour over, such as corrugated card, and to create a different texture place a sheet of paper over a textured surface to rub a wax crayon over to produce a textured pattern. This activity fascinates children, as they get to create different patterns. As a child gets older they can enjoy observational drawing, and it is fun to try and reproduce different objects that surround us in everyday life. Drawing can be taken outside to give more inspirational ideas.
Drawing is a simple activity that holds many educational benefits. It is a therapeutic activity that allows self expression. It develops imagination, and allows a child to think freely. It introduces colour recognition, and the way that colours blend together. More importantly it develops hand muscles and dexterity, in preparation for a child to learn how to write. Children learn how to control the drawing instrument, and how to manipulate it. It improves hand-eye coordination, and it builds on fine motor skills. It improves focus and concentration, which is an important skill for later life. Children learn about boundaries when they colour within the lines, which is another important skill that is required for learning how to write. Such a simple activity that children love, and yet it has many educational benefits that will aid a child for later life.
Parents will know what activities are suitable for the age and stage of development that their child is at. All art and craft activities can be adapted for a wide age range. These activities can be enjoyed from a young age under close adult supervision. Partake in the fun as an equal with your child, as children get great pleasure from having someone to get arty with. Allow them to take their own direction, and avoid controlling the activity. Art and craft activities allow a child to expand on their creativity and imagination. It's not always essential that a child gets everything right; allow them to approach things in their way, as life is all about trial and error. Offer lots of praise and encouragement, as children love to be praised for their efforts, and this builds on their self esteem and confidence.
Creative play is an open-ended activity that can be changed and adapted as a child grows. Many of these ideas can be adapted, and many of them will appeal to a wide age range, as children never tire of art activities.
As a parent, I believe that along with love and basic care, it's my responsibility to introduce my children to as many positive and fun experiences as possible. I also believe that there's no real age limit when introducing art into a young child's life. As long as you have some way of sitting them up, then you can help them access all sorts of different fun and messy activities. Freddy is ten months old, and I first started introducing him to art about four months ago and now it's an established part of our daily routine. I asked for this category to be added so that I could share some of the different activities I do with Freddy along with some that I will be doing with him as he gets older (all tried and tested by his now grown up siblings).
As with everything in life, when doing art with your child, preparation is the key. The first thing to consider is what materials you will need, personally I would suggest buying just a few basics to start with and then gradually expanding your collection as baby gets older.
Among the basic items I bought was a set of finger paints, these paints are far thicker than the paint you would get in a bottle, meaning it's easier for baby to handle without it dripping everywhere. It's also quite versatile, as if you're doing an activity that requires runnier paint you can always put some of this in a separate container and add a little water. I would say, though, that's it's best to pay a little extra and buy good quality paints. I buy mine from The Early Learning Centre, where six 100ml pots cost £4.
I wouldn't recommend pencils or thin crayons for babies, they're too difficult for them to hold. Instead go for chubby crayons, again go for the slightly more expensive option, because by paying a few extra pennies you get a far superior product. Crayola is always a good brand, but once more I'd recommend the ELC and their Chubby Crayons, that cost £1.50 for 20. Along with crayons, chalks are another favourite with Freddy, he finds them really easy to use and once more it's the chubby or chunky version you want to go for, and once more the ELC sells the best chalks we've found.
You'll also need paper for your baby to draw and paint on, and this really doesn't have to be in the least bit expensive. We use two different types of paper, white printer paper, that generally costs about £2.50 for 500 sheets and coloured paper that we buy from Wilkinsons at 40p for 20 sheets.
Along with the actual materials you need to think where your child will sit to do their artwork and how you'll protect their clothes and the furniture. We really did think ahead, and when choosing Freddy's highchair we specifically looked for one that would convert to a table and chair. The Mothercare Cube Highchair is a great multi-function highchair, that can also be used as a low chair with a tray, or table and chair. If you don't have a convertible highchair, then you could still use the child's highchair as most trays are large enough to hold an A4 sheet of paper. Or you could buy a booster seat, which would allow your child to sit at the dining table.
No matter what chair you use, you will need to protect the floor from splashes and blobs of paint. Although newspaper does a reasonable job, I do find that something a little more durable does it better. By investing in a splash mat, you can not only protect the floor while the child is painting, but can also use it when the child is feeding themselves. Any splash mat will do, but I did find it quite difficult to source one, eventually resorting to the old stalwart that is the ELC, where they had a small selection of different patterns all costing £5 each.
So that's the floor protected, what about baby's clothes? Well you could just strip baby down to his nappy and allow him to run free, but that's not always practical. What I do with Freddy is strip him down to his vest and then he has an apron that is only used for art activities. As with all the other basic supplies I would suggest spending a little more on an apron, if for no other reason than the cheapest ones are made of a thick plastic that hinders baby's movement and makes them sweaty and uncomfortable. Again the ELC sells a range of different aprons and the smallest of these aprons are suitable for babies of a year and above. But they actually fit smaller babies quite well, and have cuffs that hold the sleeves back from the hands.
Obviously as your baby grows into toddler hood you will find that you will need to add more equipment to your art supplies. It's a good idea to start building up a supply of cardboard boxes, pots and toilet roll inners, as these will be great for junk modelling (and any surplus is normally greatly received by pre-schools). A good quality non-toxic PVA glue is also a useful addition to the art drawer and as your child gets a little more creative, bottles of paint will be useful along with a variety of brushes.
I'm now going to tell you about some activities I share with Freddy now, along with some that I will be sharing with him as he gets older, that have already been tried and tested by his siblings.
This is a really fun but extremely messy activity that can be enjoyed by almost any child. Even children with motor difficulties can be helped to create masterpieces using nothing more than paint and cooked spaghetti. You will need to do a little preparation as the spaghetti needs to be cooked and then allowed to cool before being used, but that's about it. Once the stick spaghetti has been cooked (I use the cheapest of the cheap value kind) you need to put some paint on a tray and then add the spaghetti and mix them together. Once the spaghetti is completely coated in paint then put some of it onto the paper in front of your child, allow them to squelch their hands in the spaghetti and watch them create a swirling, whirling picture. Once they've finished their picture then simply remove and dispose of the spaghetti before hanging the masterpiece up to dry. If you don't like the idea of your child using spaghetti, then you can replace it with string, but I think some of the fun is in the spaghetti's unique texture.
Potato Printing And More
This activity does require a little better hand eye coordination than spaghetti painting, but once baby can confidently grip then it soon becomes a favourite. This requires a little more preparation on your part, but is still easy to do. You will need to cut the potato in half and then cut out a shape on it. What shape you cut out is entirely up to you, but simple bold shapes seem to come out the best. I normally cut triangles or squares as I'm not really that good at anything else. Once the potatoes are cut, put one or two colours of paint into trays and then help your child dip the potato into the paint and then onto the paper.
As your child gets older you can substitute other things for the potato, such as pieces of sponge cut into different shapes, cups (makes a great circle), and even leaves. Printing is yet another fun and messy activity and it doesn't have to be expensive as you can use many everyday objects.
We've all heard of finger painting, but how about doing something a bit different and allowing your child to create a work of art with their feet. Obviously the baby/child needs to be a confident walker to do this, and it's an activity that I could strongly recommend takes place outside. You'll need some quite large sheets of paper, I find wallpaper lining paper is perfect, which you can lay out on the ground. Then you'll need some trays of different colour paints, that your child can then put their foot in and so paint pictures with their feet. Believe me this one is so much fun, that you'll want to join in too, just make sure you have a washing up bowl of warm soapy water ready for cleaning your feet when you've finished.
This activity is not only fun, but your child can also enjoy eating their finished creations. As with the previous activities you won't need any expensive equipment for this, a packet of rich tea biscuits and some of those tubes of icing that you use for fine detail along with some silver balls and embellishments. Obviously, this isn't an activity to do with the very youngest of children, but it is one that I've done with my children once they've got to about eighteen months, have good fine motors skills and can follow basic instructions. Because of the amount of sugar involved, it's not an activity that I would do very often, but still it was something they enjoyed as a treat.
This is another activity that my older children really enjoyed from about eighteen months old. I collect all manner of different boxes, cartons, milk bottle lids and toilet roll tubes along with scraps of material and then what you child can make is completely up to their imagination. I do find that it's best to use a good quality PVA glue for this, and rather than glue spreader I would suggest investing in a brush that you dedicate to gluing. To begin with your child's models won't look like anything particularly recognisable to you, but believe me they will know what they've made and take pride in having made it. My children have created all sorts of different models, from cars to dinosaurs, to robots and even models of Mummy.
Once they've completed their models, allow the glue to dry and then the child can have yet another art session painting the results. So not it's not just the one afternoon's worth of fun, but two or even more.
Along with bits and bobs for junk modelling, it's a good idea to start building up a box for collages. Although you can buy collage kits, it's so much more fun to make your own and there's countless things you can use. From shiny sweet wrappers (quality street and roses have the best wrappers), to feathers, shells, pasta, rice, sand, buttons and scraps of materials almost anything can be used as long as it the glue can hold it on the paper. Again this is an activity where the child needs to be a little older, my eldest were between twelve and eighteen months when I started making collages with them, and still needed to be supervised very closely to make sure they didn't try and eat anything. When you first do this activity with your child, they will need lots of help and I would suggest you start with large items and then add in smaller pieces as they get older.
Although I don't feel Freddy is quite old enough yet, I'm hoping he'll be able to help make a picture from bits and pieces we collect when we go on holiday in June (he'll be about 14 months). Even if it's only adding a few shells or feathers to the picture. Collages are a lovely way of helping a child make memories of a day out as they can use items collected on that day. So if you've taken the child to the beach they can recreate the scene using sand (sterilise it in a hot oven first) and shells that they collected.
It's a big tradition in my family that the children help to make some extra special decorations each year and even at nine months Freddy wasn't left out. This year there wasn't a lot that he could do, I let him do some finger painting and then cut stars and Christmas tree shapes out to decorate the tree. Next year, we'll be doing a lot more activities in the run up to Christmas all of which I've previously enjoyed with my other children.
One thing we'll be doing is collecting pine cones, that we will be able to decorate with paint and glitter before using pipe cleaners to attach them to the tree. I'll also be cutting out stars from cereal boxes, which Freddy will be able to decorate, again with paint and glitter along with scraps of foil paper and beads and I'll be hanging these from the ceilings.
Freddy will also be helping to make extra special presents for relatives next Christmas, using projects I've successfully completed with my now much older children. (They were 18-24months when we first did them). One thing that's common to all those projects are little mini-calendars, that can be bought for a few pence each.
My favourite Christmas gift project is to get a plain white paper plate and then allow the child to make a pattern on it, by gluing various pasta shapes. Then once the glue has dried, the next bit needs to be done by an adult, and that is to spray the whole surface with metallic spray paint. Make sure you do this outside, because I do remember once when I worked in a nursery I ended up spraying twenty of these plates and the fumes definitely went to my head. Once the paint has dried all that you need to do is attach a loop of ribbon to the top (do check with your child which way up it goes, because they get upset if you get it wrong) and the calendar to the bottom and you have a gift that any Grandma or Granddad will treasure. The best thing about this activity is that as well as very young children being able to do it, you'll find it's something that their older brothers and sisters will enjoy just as much.
Another great calendar idea, that even the very youngest of babies can be involved in, is the extraordinarily simple idea of allowing them to do a finger painting, which you then back onto card. With the very smallest of babies you can simply use paint to make an impression of their hand and footprints. After backing the picture on card, simply attach a calendar to the bottom and there you go another great gift. Similarly, you could help your child produce a festive collage using lots of cotton wool and glitter and attach a calendar to the picture. I find all these gifts are well received and treasured far more than the standard box of smellies
This is in no way a comprehensive list of art activities you can do with your baby or toddler, but it is some of the one's that have worked really well for my children. I've tried to include activities where the initial outlay is quite small and where we use objects around us. I personally feel that it's very important to allow my children to experience as many different ways of being creative as possible, and always praise their results (even if I can't quite work out what they're meant to be. Art is also a great way of helping your child understand the world around them and cause and effect. But I will say, no matter what art activity your very young child is doing, it is important that you closely supervise them and get involved (they learn from you). But is it really such a hardship to spend half an hour getting messy with your child, it certainly beats the washing up.
Hopefully there's something here that has left you with the urge to cover the floor, roll up your sleeves, get the paints out and have some messy fun with your baby/toddler. And if you have some great activities to share then why not write your own review and share them with us.