At our house, arts and crafts are the area where my son and I regularly connect. He has his sports and outdoor activities with his dad, his football watching with his dad, and his tool/build/repair time with his dad. With me, we connect on reading, on organizing (I know, you are not all shocked that I – author of a site on organizing and time-saving – consider organizing an actual activity), and arts and crafts. These are our “mom and son” things that we do together. Here are a few of our favorites:
Nothing beats playdoh at our house. My son can play with playdoh for hours at a time. We have a few key playdoh tools that were very cheap to acquire as well. Sometimes I make the playdoh from scratch when it all dries out; sometimes I just restock. The key is not to stress saving the playdoh for ever. It is going to get a bit dirty and dry no matter what you do. So let the worries about longevity go, and just make things. It’s very therapeutic.
We see a lot of toddler art glue stick action at our house with everything from popsicle sticks, old scraps of fabric and ribbon, paper scraps, and reused stickers to googly eyes, puff balls, foam letters, and large beads. There is no limit to what you can glue with a glue stick, and most every toddler can manage one, especially the larger ones.
My son is not so big on coloring, but we do some crayon and marker (only the water-soluble kind) work once in a while. Generally, I try to have crayon and marker activities be for someone else, so they have a natural purpose. We write thank you notes this way, make cards for birthdays, and do other specific writing activities that are for other people. This seems to make the project more interesting.
This toddler art activity is more involved in terms of prep and supervision, especially if it is indoors. However, there are some *fantastic* painting tools out there for young kids that do not make as much of a mess and are washable. When it’s warm, we paint outside (this includes chalking outside too). But with a drop cloth, an art smock, and an easel (this should definitely be bought off Craigslist or on consignment as they are way overpriced new), you can have a lot of fun painting together.