Because 1 year olds are only beginning to demonstrate fine motor control in manipulating basic objects, art activities that require simple use of larger muscle groups are most appropriate for this age group. Provide baby-safe tools and materials that are easy to grasp and manipulate, and get creative with project ideas to promote growth in multiple developmental domains.
Finger painting activities with baby-safe, non-toxic tempera paint encourage fine motor skills and sensory development. As your baby pokes, smears and dabs paint onto poster board or canvas with his fingers, he practices using the small muscles in his hands while also taking in the experience of temperature, consistency and texture by feeling the paint with his hands. Provide a combination of colors that complement a favorite space in your home and help your baby press, swirl and rub the paint onto a canvas. Hang the artwork when dry to add an artistic element to your home with a sentimental touch.
During the first year of life, a baby's senses are her primary way of interacting with and exploring the world around her life. Textured art activities provide 1 year olds with opportunities to explore a range of textures and objects through touch. Use a paintbrush to apply a thin coat of paint or non-toxic school glue to a small square canvas or unfinished, but well-sanded, thin piece of craft wood. Help your baby to press fabric swatches, large buttons, ribbons, felt shapes and other textured pieces onto the canvas. Avoid using small items, since they are a choking hazard. When the collage is finished, spray it with clear acrylic sealer to make the artwork permanent for display.
Help your baby create works of art ripe with depth, dimension and style with simple tools such as sponges, barbecue brushes and mini paint rollers. Simply dip the tool into a shallow dish of non-toxic paint, pat the excess off and encourage your baby to press, whisk or roll the tool across a canvas. Create seasonal artwork by painting and stamping natural objects onto the canvas -- fall leaves from the backyard, for example, or sand dollars collected at the beach. These kinds of activities encourage cognitive skills as your baby perceives and utilizes objects in new and different ways.
While most 1 year olds aren't yet capable of sculpting shapes and objects with their bare hands, children in this age group can still create amazing sculptures with child-safe air dry clay, some cookie-cutters and shaped muffin pans. Help your child to press and work the clay into the mold, pop it out and then let it dry. Once the sculpture is hardened, encourage your little one to make it his own by adding some finger paint to it.