Art activities for saying “I love you” and “thank you” with more than words.
All little ones show love and affection in their own special ways. Babies will show you they are happy to see you through giggles and squeals. Older babies will run to you with a big smile and give you a warm hug. A toddler can show you they love you with kisses. And older kids will say “I love you.” (That’s one of the very best sounds in the world, right?)
When little learners show you how much they love you, they also show you that they are building new skills. These activities for saying “I love you” and “thank you” in creative ways will help you foster feelings of gratitude and empathy in a developmentally appropriate way — you can thank us later!
At 18 months:
- Your child shows affection to familiar people.
- Children can scribble on their own.
Making scribbles for grandma, a sibling or a special person in their lives can help little ones practice their creative and fine motor skills. Making scribbles for them can also help build empathy skills. Take the time to share a gift-making drawing session with your little artist. That session will let you model how thinking about others can be turned to action. Post your drawings on the fridge door. Then, next time the recipient of the drawing visits, ask your little one, “do you want to show uncle Ruben the drawing you made him?” Read more about your child’s creative development…
At two years:
- Kids can follow simple instructions.
- Little ones begin to sort shapes and colors.
- Your little one can make or copy straight lines and circles.
- Children have more and more independence.
A two-year-old can do simple multi-step art activities, like stamping paper or finger painting. To talk about gratitude or say “I love you” with a card, make a card station or box with paper and materials. Every time you find a reason to say “thank you” to someone, bring it out and stamp a card. For special occasions, like birthdays or to show a friend you are thinking about them, have your little one do a finger painting for them. Want to help them sign their name? Just write it for them with pencil and invite your little artist to trace over it with a pen or marker. Read more about your two-year-old’s creative development…
At three years:
- You will notice your little one now shows affection for friends without prompting
- They can understand the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers”
- Your little one shows a wide range of emotions
- They can follow instructions with 2 or 3 steps
- Your little artist can now copy a circle with pencil or crayon
When your child is three-years-old, you will find that opportunities for gratitude and love will show up on their own. Your little learner is growing in self-awareness and with some help, they can spot and name their feelings. Whenever your little one tells you a story about how much they like their new friend, Fiona, or they tell you how Kevin shared a brownie with them at lunch time, you can help them find a way to express those feelings with art. Ask your little artist if they’d like to illustrate what they tell you with crayons or colored pencils. Finish by writing their name and then find or make an envelope to make it a real letter. Read more about your three-year-old’s creative development…
At four years:
- Your child enjoys doing new things.
- They can tell you stories.
- They know and can say their first and last name.
- Children can name some colors and some numbers.
- They start to understand time.
- Your child can use scissors.
- They can also copy some capital letters.
There’s nothing much better in life than having a best friend. And your child may have developed close friendships at this point. They might even be ready to show how much they like another person, whether they’re from school or family, with some kind words or a handmade craft. Ever heard of junk art? It’s fun and can keep your little one busy for hours. Gather items such as old magazines, styrofoam pieces, small boxes, ribbons, colored paper and more. Add glue, tape or paint to the mix. Then, invite your child to make a 3-D collage. Encourage independence by letting your child work on their own. Offer to help where needed, but mini-masterpieces can be a mostly solo adventure for preschoolers. After they are done making their masterpiece, ask them questions like, “What colors do you see in your art?” or “Tell me about how you made this.” Read more about your four-year-old’s creative development…
Celebrate your child’s milestones!
This post is full of ways to activate skills and encourage your child’s development. Curious about major milestones? Check out our guide.