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The very minimum any parent can do when introducing their toddler to arts is to provide for him the necessary supplies and a space for engaging in art activities, and to show him how to use the supplies. It's also helpful to have many quality picture books, artwork, or reproductions that will provide him with an encyclopedia of images to use when drawing himself. Initially, simply allow your child to explore the media. Allow him to draw and paint what he wants, and don't expect any masterpieces out of him. It is possible to gradually introduce him to actual basic painting skills using the following projects as examples.

What you will need:

The best paint for starters is tempera. Later you can try watercolor; though the technique is more difficult, it is much more interesting. Buy a few medium size tempera cans of basic colors such as: red, green, blue, yellow, black and white (for painting on colored paper). Something like this set from Amazon: School Smart Non-Toxic Washable Tempera Paint Set, 1 pt Plastic Bottle, Assorted Color, Set of 12 Every time your kid wants to paint, scoop a tblsp of each color (you can always add extra if needed) into disposable cups or plates, otherwise after couple of painting sessions you won't have any clean colors left at all. Use medium thick paper. For beginners you can buy some inexpensive paper . When start using a brush have a separate brush for each color, they also don't have to be expensive. Then move to using one or two brushes and washing them with water, which you can put in a big, thoroughly washed yogurt cup.

For drawing: a set of crayons and any paper will do for little kids.

Hand Printing

What can be more simple than finger or hand printing? It's a good way to start introducing your kid to the very concept of painting, and to tell him about different colors and shapes.
With a few additional details and lots of imagination you can turn a hand print into so many different things ( remember the “Wilson” ball from “Cast away”?). Pour a little amount of each color of paint onto a paper plate. Use white or colored paper.

Here just few ideas for hand printing for you:

hand print turkey
1. Picture of a turkey (great for Thanksgiving crafts)
hand print butterfly
2. Butterfly
hand print sun
3. Sun
hand print flower
4. Flower.

2-3 year olds

Once your kid starts eating independently, using a spoon and a fork it means that he is also able to use a brush or a crayon.
1.Try to help your child develop a habit of holding a brush the right way (not in a fist), as it will make painting much easier for him later on. Just correct him gently every time, trying not to irritate him. Sometimes it may take a few months for a child to get it.
2. Almost all kids have a vivid imagination, but most of them still need you to help give them an idea for a painting ("lets paint a flower or a sun, a ball or a tree" etc.).
3. It helps to show a child a picture in a book or a painting and ask him to describe it. This is how children start "reading" shapes and colors and very slowly develop an understanding of how they can express their own ideas on a paper.
4. Put a toy, a shoe, or anything else that comes to your or your kid's mind in front of him and let him draw or paint it. With some kids you can get amazing results but others can really hate it.
5. A few remarks on corrections: It helps to correct a little yourself or by guiding your child's hand. But quite a few kids can't stand it. In that case, you should show them how to do it on a separate peace of paper(even if you can't draw at all I'm sure you are able to do better than a 2 year old).

Here you can find art project ideas that are both fun and educational. While working on these projects your child will learn some basic painting, drawing and sculpturing skills.

Project ideas.

kitten play
1. Kitten
Glue a silhouette of a kitten (print out) to the paper. Ask your child to draw a ball for the kitten to play with.
2. Rain
Paint a cloud in the upper part of big piece of paper. With a blue color or crayon your child can paint some rain drops. You can also sing something rhythmical like "drip-drip-drip".
rain painting
3. Snow (click image for detailed instructions).
Very simple painting project for the youngest kids!
snow painting
4. Tree
Paint a simple tree. With brush strokes a kid can paint leaves on a tree.
leaves painting
5. Decorate Christmas Tree (click image for detailed instructions).
This project explains how to paint decorations over the Christmas tree painted separately (see below).
Decorated Christmas Tree Painting
6. Decorate a Paper Plate
Take a paper plate (without plastic coating) and ask a kid to decorate it with different colors or crayons.
hand-painted paper plate
7. Swimming Fish
On a blue paper paint or draw a swimming fish. You can show a kid a toy fish or a picture of one before starting the painting.
swimming fish painting
8. Fruits and Vegetables
Show your child a few different fruits and vegetables of simple colors: a tomato, a lemon, a green apple or cucumber. Tell him what colors they are and ask him to draw his favorite.
9. Sky at Night.
Ask your child to paint a night sky with a dark blue color. When it dries suggest he add a moon and a few stars.
child's painting of a night sky

3-4 year olds

If your child doesn't have any previous experience with painting or working with play-dough or clay you can check the recommendations for 2-3 years old kids first.

1. Keep showing your child pictures in books and discussing them. Sometimes ask him to follow the outline of something in the picture with his finger.
2. Once your child has learned all the basic colors start teaching him more about secondary ones (purple, beige etc.) and about how colors can be dark or light.
3. From time to time help your child by holding his hand and painting with it. That way it's easier for him to understand how to move a brush. But some children really don't like this approach, in which case you should just show them how to move a brush on a separate piece of paper.
4. Frequently help your child to wash the brush or scoop up some paint with it. At first it's really hard for kids to feel how much paint or water they really need.

Project ideas.

1.For St. Patrick Day. Pot of gold and the rainbow.
Sketch a rainbow and a pot under it with a pencil. Explain your child about the colors of the rainbow and their order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet).
Let a child color it -- you can help him by guiding his hand on the first couple strokes.
After the painting has dried, make some “gold” in a pot with a glitter glue pen.
rainbow and pot of gold painting
2. Do you know something round?
Ask your child if he knows something that is round. Ask him to paint it.
3. House in snow (click image for detailed instructions).
Painting project for 2-3 year old kids that teaches basics of painting.
Snow over house painting
4. For Easter. Colorful Eggs (click image for detailed instructions).
Easter eggs and bunny
5. Let's “grow” a tree.
Explain your child how a tree is shaped (it's thicker near the ground and the top branches are very thin). Let him paint or draw the tree starting from the bottom of a sheet.
paint a tree
6. For Easter. Egg Hunt.(click image for detailed instructions)
egg hunt painting
7. A Dog House.
Cut out the parts of a dog house from construction paper or the print out. Let your child glue them together. Then suggest he draw a dog inside or outside the house. You can show him some pictures of a dog or a real dog if you own one, and discuss how many legs the dog has, what his tail looks like, his ears, nose and so on.
dog in a house
8. Complete a Flower.
Draw or print out a few stems with leaves. Ask your child to finish them with some flowers.
9. Green Saguaro.
Let your child color the paper using a thin coat of blue color. After it dries he can paint a green saguaro and a yellow sun and sand. You can make this easier for the child by drawing the outlines with a pencil or printing out a saguaro shape.
kid's painting of saguaro cactus
10. Painting of a pumpkin. (click image for detailed instructions)
painting of a pumpkin
11. Paper bag ghost -Painting. (click image for detailed instructions)
paper bag ghost
4-5 year olds

At this age kids start to pay more attention to details. Their pictures start to describe actual situations and tell stories. When children are painting or drawing make sure to remind them of the background (for example, if a boy is drawing a car, ask him about the weather, what color the sky is, what sort of road this car is riding on, etc.).
When working with colors make sure that your child washes his brush after each use. Explain how he can blend colors on a paper plate to create more complicated shades. For example: blend some blue and red to create violet.
Show your child how to do different brush strokes like dots or thin lines or "flower petals".
If your child doesn't have previous experience in painting take a look at the sections for younger kids.

Project ideas.

1. Winter trees.
Let your child color the sheet of paper in using a medium blue color. This will be the sky.
Let it dry. Ask him if trees have leaves in winter and what trees stay green. Ask him to paint some trees. Let the painting dry again. Meanwhile, talk about how snow falls, how it stays on the ground and helps trees to not freeze. Finally, ask your child to paint some snow falling and lying on the ground and trees.
2. For Easter. Little chicken. (click image for detailed instructions)
picture of chicken
3. For Easter. Easter Bunny. (click image for detailed instructions)
easter bunny painting
4. Mixing colors. Fruits and veggies.
Find some oranges, eggplants, yellow-green apples or some other fruits and veggies of similar colors. You could even make do with a few pictures of the fruits. Discuss their shapes and colors with your child. Help him make orange using red and yellow paints, violet or purple using red and blue etc. Then paint those fruits and veggies.

5. My favorite story.
Read your child one of his favorite simple stories. Ask him to draw an illustration to this story. If he has trouble, help him or show him pictures from the book, but try not to copy them.

6. " When I'm happy and when I'm sad".
On a simple drawing of person's face explain your child how to draw it: a circle, eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Smile and then frown at your child, asking him what has changed. Ask him to draw a happy and a sad mommy (or daddy, brother, etc.).
child's drawing of human faces
7. What I see from the window.
Ask your child what he can see from his window. Suggest that he paint or draw it. The purpose of this project is to start explaining to him about the sky and the ground and the mountains (or trees or sea) in between them. You want to explain to him that there are no white or empty spots around us.
School Bus with kids
8. Children on a School Bus
Draw ( print out ) the silhouette of a school bus. Ask your child to color it and draw children's faces in the windows.
9. For Mothers or Fathers Day. A Family Book.
Glue together a couple sheets of paper, and fold them into a book. Ask your child to draw pictures of family members on each page
A Family Book
10. Trees in a Winter Forest.(click image for detailed instructions)
Talk to your child about which trees stay green in the winter and which don't. Ask him to paint or draw a tree without leaves and a pine tree. Then he can use white paint to paint some snow falling and covering those trees and the ground.
Painting winter forest
11. A Lizard.
Show your child photos or drawings of lizards, or a ceramic lizard if you have one (in Tucson almost every household does). Ask your child to paint a blue or green lizard and when the paint dries let him decorate it with some other colors. If it's too challenging he can simply color and decorate a print out.

12. A Flower for Mom.
Show your child some real flowers and some pictures. Talk about the endless variety of shapes and colors. Ask a child to paint or draw a flower on white or colored paper. If it's going to be a gift for his Mom put some glitter on it later.
13. What my Dad Likes. For Fathers Day.
Ask your child about things that his Dad loves to do. Fold a sheet of paper in half and suggest your kid make a card for his Dad by drawing him doing his favorite thing ( driving or fishing or playing baseball or just laying on the couch ). Or he can just draw some elements of Dad's hobby like baseball bat or fishing pole.
14. Christmas Tree Painting (click image for detailed instructions).
How to make a Christmas tree painting. Step by step instructions.
child's painting of a Christmas tree
15. Self portrait.
Suggest to your child that he paint a picture of himself. Give him a large sheet of paper. It'll be fun for him to paint on a large surface for a change.
kid's self portrait - painting
16. Snowman painting (click image for detailed instructions)
Simple and great looking painting project for kids 4 and older.
Snowman Painting
17. A painting of fruits and veggies (or pumpkins). (click image for detailed instructions)

Set up several different fruits or veggies in front of your kid(s). Ask them to make a sketch with a pensil and finish the painting using watercolors or tempera paint. Younger kids can use crayons. For kids 4 and older.
painting of fruits and veggies

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