This spring, get creative and explore with your infant through art. Infants are curious about the world around them and will go to great lengths to touch, smell and taste everything within reach. Provide your baby with hands-on creative activities to encourage this natural curiosity about the world during spring. It is important to try to tailor each activity to your child's own developmental needs. If your infant has not begun grasping for objects, it may not be a good time to try holding a crayon and coloring. Always supervise your infant closely during art and exploration activities, and never leave your child unattended.
Spring arrives and the world seems to light up with color, so give your child bright colors to mimic those of the bright leaves and flowers appearing in nature. Infants who are less than 4 to 6 months old can use food to create colorful works of art while in their high-chair. Slice blueberries in half and let your child stain a piece of paper with them, or drop a dollop of pudding in the middle of the paper for your child to smear around like mud. Infants who are crawling, sitting without support or standing, can use either a paper taped to the floor or a child-sized easel for art work. Provide jumbo crayons or paintbrushes loaded with tempera paint, and give your child control to draw anything. Focus more on exposing your child to the bright colors of the paint than on precision, and connect the activity to your spring theme. You might say, "Those are big blue circles! They look just like the flowers on the hydrangea bush outside."
Spring brings with it days filled with cool breezes and lots of sunshine, so take advantage of fair weather days to explore the outdoors. First, spread a blanket on a grassy area and let your infant explore. Younger infants may stay still, or they may roll, scoot or crawl onto the grass. Encourage your child to touch the grass as long as your yard has not been sprayed with pesticides, fertilizer or other chemicals that may be harmful to your child. Infants who are able to grasp objects can use a stick of sidewalk chalk to draw on a concrete area. Infants may also enjoy a paint bubbles activity where you tape a large piece of butcher paper or poster board to an outside wall, fill a bowl with bubble solution and add food coloring. Show your child how to dip the bubble wand into the solution and blow the paint bubbles onto the paper, creating colorful bubble art. Adjust your activity to suit your child's development. For example, if your child is not yet ready to control the bubble wand or would simply rather watch you, then blow the bubbles yourself and enjoy the activity together that way.
Creative minds are often inspired by nature, and you can help inspire your infant even at this young age. Go on a nature walk through your own backyard, and collect leaves and flowers. Let your infant choose where to explore. Younger infants can be carried or pushed in a stroller on your nature walk. Talk about all the things you see, the scents you smell and the textures you feel. Say, "This flower has silky petals. How does that pine cone feel? Does the wind have a smell?" Bring the collected flowers and leaves inside after your nature walk. Tape a piece of paper onto the floor or the tray of your child's high-chair, and tape the flowers and leaves onto the paper. This activity works best if there is a lot of white space left on the page, so make sure not to crowd the paper with too much plant material. Show your child how to splatter paint the picture by dipping a paintbrush into tempera paint and shaking it over the paper to scatter dots of paint. Younger infants may not yet be ready to hold a paintbrush and may enjoy simply playing with the paint and plant material as you do this in front of them. When your child's splatter paint is finished, remove the leaves and flowers to reveal a white silhouette of the plant.
Spring marks the return of many animals. Depending on where you live, you could see an influx of birds, deer, possum, rabbits, chipmunks and other wildlife. Try sitting at the window in the early morning with your infant and watching all the animals wake up and begin their search for food. Connect your child with the animals' activities by saying, "Look at those silly squirrels chasing each other! Do you hear the birds chirping? There's one looking for a worm to eat." If you often see deer and their young in the spring, print a picture of a fawn. Infants will enjoy using watercolors to paint the fawn's body light brown, and can dip their thumb in white paint to make the spots on the young deer's back.
Another activity infants may enjoy, once they are developmentally ready to hold objects, is creating their own birds' eggs using unfinished wooden eggs and acrylic paint, both found at your local craft store. Simply fill a bowl with acrylic paint and dip the wooden eggs in the paint. You can even decorate them with spots just like some species of birds' eggs. Set the eggs aside to dry. While you help your child with this activity, sing the following song to the tune of Old MacDonald:
"Little Birdie made a nest,
Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet.
And in that nest she laid an egg,
Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet.
With a crack-crack here, and a peep-peep there,
Here a crack, there a peep, everywhere a peep-peep.
Baby birdie hatched from the egg,
Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet."