Art & Math Activities for 1 & 2 Year Olds

By Melissa McKean
SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images

Teaching children basic art and math skills at a young age sets a solid foundation for the future. Use basic, everyday activities to teach numbers, counting and shapes. Find simple painting and drawing activities that don’t require a lot of coordination, but will help encourage creativity. Don’t underestimate a child’s abilities at age 1 or 2. They will surprise you.

Hand Tracing

A toddler places his hand on a piece of paper.
SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images

Hand tracing will help your child develop coordination skills and help them learn to hold a pencil at a young age. The drawing may not come out perfectly, but it will be a fun activity you can do together that will improve her motor skills. Lay a piece of paper on the ground and have her sit on top of it. Help her position her hand in front of her with her fingers spread apart. Place a pencil in her hand and help her guide it around her fingers. Make sure you always monitor this activity, so she doesn’t begin chewing on the pencil or accidentally poke herself with it.

Finger Painting

A two-year-old boy makes a finger painting on a canvas in the backyard.
SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images

Your 1- or 2-year-old probably makes artwork daily with smashed food on his high chair, so why not utilize those skills with finger painting? Tape a large piece of paper on a nonporous surface. Cover the area with a tarp or newspaper, because the paint may spread or spill. Fill bowls with different colors of finger paint and allow the child to dip his fingers and paint on the paper using his hands. He can make handprints, draw lines and mix colors. Monitor him closely to make sure he doesn’t eat the paint or get it in his eyes.

This Little Piggy

A close-up of a dad counting his child's toes.
SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images

The old activity, “This Little Piggy,” is fun for the child, but it can also be used to help her learn to count. Start off by holding the first toe and saying, “This little piggy went to the market,” and then follow up by saying, “That’s one.” Next, take the next toe and say, “This little piggy stayed home,” and add, “That’s two.” Do this with all five toes and count to five. If you do it several times, she will remember the rhyme and associate the numbers with each toe, which will help her remember numbers.

Geometric Pancakes

A toddler eats her pancakes.
SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images

Make breakfast a learning time with geometric pancakes. Cook pancakes for your child, as you usually would, then use geometrically shaped cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the finished pancake. Lay a variety of shapes on a plate, and ask the child to identify each shape and have him repeat it. “That’s a triangle. Is it yummy?” Then say, “What is it?” He’ll look forward to learning in the morning.

About the Author

Melissa McKean is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. McKean has an expertise in web and SEO copywriting and has worked on both B2C and B2B lead generation and e-commerce websites to improve search engine rankings and usability. McKean has a bachelor's degree in advertising from Kent State University.