Babies, before they start loving everything messy, have a slightly more complicated relationship with gooey, sticky textures. No? ok at least mine did, both of them.
V (as we’ll call my older son) was very clear, he wanted nothing to do with anything sticky till he was almost 3 years old. A characteristic his teachers in pre school were quite concerned about as they couldn’t get him to do any messy activities like hand prints. S (my second born), is a whole different story, he loves the mess, for a short time, He obsessively cleans everything in the house, it’s his most favourite thing to do. On any given sunny morning, you’ll find him cloth in hand going rub-a-dub-dub on the floor, couch, table, kitchen and pretty much any surface he can reach.
When V is busy with his paints, crayons, writing etc S of course wants to participate. Like most second borns, he thinks he was born with the capability to do everything his brother can and is often frustrated when he realizes he can’t. As we work with colours a lot, there are few materials that are toddler safe and I can allow him to explore – crayons, homemade playdough are a few, but he craves more.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in no mood to take them outdoors in the evening and wanted an activity that could engage them both indoors, while also giving them some exercise. I found some old sponge scrubbers, cut out the sponge and mixed a couple of colours – red and yellow with some water and let the sponge soak in the colours in two separate boxes. Keeping this on the floor with some papers I gave the toddler some stamps and you should’ve watched him go!
He couldn’t believe he could get colours just by touching the sponge and it wasn’t as messy. The older brother soon arrived and adapted the prompt to suit him with some additional colours. With the monsoons arriving soon, I am making a list of indoor activities that can keep them occupied for a couple of hours for when we get rained in – this is definitely one of them.
What you need –
- Sponges – as many as the colurs you want to make, cut out old sponge scrubbers too, they work great
- Paints – I used Jovi finger paint as its dense enough to still give good prints when diluted with some water. Use a thicker paint for better prints
- Stamps – I used readymade stamps but you can use, potato cuts or blocks to help your child stamp. Plastic surfaces wont work, please keep that in mind
- Paper – lots of sheets as the kids run through them fast
Make the paint stamp pads with the sponge for your choice of colour, lay out the stamps and pads and watch your kids go!
Once they start stamping they improvise on their own, allow them to get used to the process first and stamp around before they decide on what they like to do. This is great for fine motor skills, developing the right grasp and pattern recognition for young toddlers. My younger son was 15 months old when we did this activity.
Children 15 months and over should be able to handle this. Try it with your toddlers and let me know how it goes!