One of the best surprises of creating my own business, Homegrown Studio, is the joy that my Toddler Time Class brings to me. It shouldn’t be a surprise to me as I adore the toddler age. Each day brings a new discovery and genuine sense of joy. I’ve combined my experience as a classroom teacher and a mom of three energetic, social kids to share my secrets for Easy Fun Toddler Playgroup Ideas. Whether you are inspired to start your own business or you are a parent or caregiver that needs a little confidence boost to invite people over for a morning of fun this is the post for you.
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THE ENVIRONMENT FOR EASY FUN TODDLER PLAYGROUP IDEAS
Whether you are a parent looking to connect with other parents or a new educator researching how to create your own classes for children you have to start somewhere. For me it is all about the environment. My space for toddler and preschool classes is designed so that children can independently explore the space. Begin by looking at the space and removing anything that you would not want touched or would be really disappointed if it broke. There is nothing worse than entering a space with a child and having to constantly say “no don’t touch that.” What fun is that for anyone? I am lucky to have a three room space. Two of these rooms are designed for our messier art activities.
Less is more when it comes to organizing a toddler playgroup. My playgroups are 1 hour long. I find this is plenty of time for children to enjoy the activities and do a quick 5 minute clean up at the end. If you want to include a snack time then you could make the playgroup 1.5 hours, but it is really not necessary.
I promise you that with a little preparation the mess does not get too crazy. At the end of my classes I can have all three rooms scrubbed and tidied in 20 minutes. A few tips for success:
Have everything organized before people arrive. I begin by writing down all the activities and then writing down all the materials I will need. I put everything I will need in a big plastic tub the day before so it is all set to go.
Invest in a roll of this butcher paper. I tape large pieces of this to the floor before beginning any of our painting projects. No worries about the floors so the focus can be on fun.
Keep buckets of water and rolls of paper towels close by. Instead of having dripping paint trails leading to the bathroom, children (and adults) can do quick clean ups before leaving messy paint areas.
Set ground rules for where paint can and can’t go and be consistent. These are toddlers after all and they are meant to push the limits. Trust me, if I let my little students they would splatter paint my ceiling.
EASY FUN TODDLER PLAYGROUP IDEAS
I follow the same basic format for all of my toddler classes. Planning 5-7 activities is perfect for this energetic, short attention span age. I include a simple take home art project, a group art project, a table with playdough, an area with blocks and magnet tiles and other non messy ideas. Before choosing the activities decide how comfortable you are with messy art projects. If you choose to do messy art such as painting you have to be comfortable with the idea that some paint might end up on the floor and a drop might go on the wall. If this is going to make you tense, skip it all together. It’s not worth it! Here are some activity ideas. Choose a few from each group and you will be ready for fun!
FAVORITE MESSY ART ACTIVITY IDEAS FOR TODDLERS
watercolor paper and liquid watercolors (hands down, these watercolor paints are my favorite art supply for toddlers)
air dry clay with popsicle sticks, colorful straws and jewels
glue collages- use a cardboard base or these canvases with colorful strings and scrap pieces of paper
FAVORITE COLLABORATIVE ART PROJECTS FOR TODDLERS
Nothing beats painting on this cloth drop cloth with the liquid watercolors. It never gets old. I keep it simple and tape a piece to the wall or sometimes cover our Fort Magic house with it and paint- check it out!
Giant Canvas Painting with tempera paints– My classes run in 6 week sessions. During those 6 weeks we create gorgeous works of art on a giant canvas. This is always a favorite and the kids are so proud of their work!
Cardboard Box Painting– nothing beats a huge cardboard box with tempera paints- so simple and fun!
Playdough- don’t over think things. Playdough is one of the best sensory activities. This is the same recipe I have made since I was two years old.
Slime- we love using slime especially when we turn it into silly ribbons. Check it out!
Bins filled with poms-poms, water and babies (these are the best baby dolls!), soapy bubbles, goop, baking soda and squirt bottles of colored vinegar and so many more!
An area of building toys is a great reprieve from the messy art activities. Here are some of our favorites:
Having a quiet area for children is helpful during toddler playgroups. For my classes it is as simple as a small book shelf with a comfy couch near by. You could also put some cushions in a corner with as basket of books.
THE OVERALL FEEL
I always tell people my classes are a judgment-free zone. Taking care of children is hard enough without worrying about other adults judging you. It truly takes a village to raise a child. Think of toddler playgroups as a chance to enhance and grow your village. If you leave the worries of mess and perfection behind, even for just that one hour of playgroup, I promise you will end the hour feeling full of energy and joy.