Having toddlers make gifts is such a wonderful way to add a personal touch during the holidays. Painting a gift can be a wonderful experience for the toddler and makes a lovely, unique gift.

This painting process can also be an essential learning experience for toddlers.

Painting a Gift Fairy Dust Teaching

My toddler is really into painting. He would paint all day, everyday if I had the energy to let him. Therefore, when trying to come up with a gift for him to give to others for Christmas, painting was an obvious choice.


I set up his little painting area. I was naive to think he might want to add beads to make it a multimedia art project, but we'll get to that part later.


The Process

I started with an 8 x 10 canvas, and I squirted a few drops of paint on to get him started.


He quickly got to work squishing the puddles of paint with both brushes.

Observing him, I realized this is not only a creative and fun gift, but an incredible learning experience for him.

I already knew he was in the scribble stage of drawing which is typical for his age.  However, when I compared the developmental processes of that stage to what I observed in his painting, they were the same!

Let's take a look at all the skills he was building during this gift making process…


Gross Motor

I watched as he began painting in broad swirly strokes.  This whole arm movement aids in developing his gross motor development.


Sensory Processing

He found his hands and decided to paint them. I attribute this to his infant/toddler teachers at his mommy's day out program. They did a lot of hand print projects and told me numerous times how still he would sit while they painted his hands, as if he really enjoyed it. Apparently he did because he sat and painted every crevice of his little hand.


Fine Motor & Hand/Eye Coordination

He switched to painting his dominate hand. That's a tough skill. I liken it to trying to paint your dominate hand's fingernails with your non-dominant hand. You know the one that is used only in necessary situations, such as attempting to carry every grocery bag inside in one trip.

He is working towards building fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination which will help him when he is ready for handwriting.


Language Development

For this painting project he chose red, blue, and purple paint. When he wanted more of a color, he would point and actually name the color. What?! I knew he knew red and blue, but I had no idea he knew purple or could say it! Granted, it sounded more like, “poople”, but he got his point across. The pointing helped too.

This stage of naming and labeling is crucial to his language development.


Problem Solving & Independence

After about his tenth request for more paint, I gave him the bottle. This would have been a much better idea if he hadn't have already slathered both hands in paint, but after slip and sliding the bottle around for a minute or so, he got a good enough grip to sling some more paint on. He's got a Jackson Pollock thing going on with his splatter.


It's super fun to clap your hands when they are dripping with paint too.


He also discovered if he got too much paint somewhere he didn't want it on his hands, he could just use the canvas to pull that paint right off.


Initiative & Self Confidence

When I thought he was close to being finished with his masterpiece, I set the beads and a few googly eyes (his favorite) close to him. He didn't pay any mind to the beads, but he did use the eyes as another painting tool.


It is very hard to tell, but he has a large googly eye under the palm of his hand and he is swiping it all around his canvas.

Allowing him a choice, seems like a common courtesy. Far too often, this choice is overlooked in this age group. By allowing him to choose what objects to use and how he will use them, I am helping him build his initiative and self confidence.



One final swipe of paint right across his forehead and back onto the canvas. Right after I snapped this pic he raised both hands and cheered, “Ta-Da!” He does this when I finish vacuuming a room too, so I knew he was truly done.

It is very clear he truly enjoys painting which makes this gift making process that much more special.


This is the final product! When it dries I will spray it with a clear coat to preserve the paint. Only about 10 more of these to go.

I must admit, it was fascinating to watch his painting and learning process. I know each painting gift will be unique and will be an exceptional treasure for the recipient.

For each painting gift, I will include pictures of his process for that extra personal touch.

What special gift is your toddler giving everyone this year? 

If you teach toddlers, what is your favorite gift to have them make?