How to Foster Creativity in a Restless Toddler

Hello mamas and papas.  Creativity is such a key part of childhood.  Yet today’s active kids often don’t get enough opportunities to be creativity.  In my house, we swerve back and forth when it comes to presenting opportunities for our kids to be creative.  When I’m feeling particularly energetic and inspired, I get out some art materials for my daughters, who like to sit, paint, and draw.  My boys?  Forget about it.  The best bet with them has been legos and blocks.  Since experts point to creativity as a key part of a child’s social and intellectual development, I was thrilled when Menucha of Moms & Crafters approached me with this terrific post on fostering creativity in a restless toddler and some creative art projects for toddlers!  Read on for Menucha’s tips.  And for more about Menucha, see below.  Melissa xo 

How to Foster Creativity in a Restless Toddler

My son has always been active. By always, I mean since 14 weeks into my pregnancy, when I felt those first few flutters of him moving around. That soon transitioned to what felt like break dancing in my tummy and then moved on to kicks that shook his whole crib.

He’s still an active little child.

He’ll sit for roughly two seconds. We learned quickly how to let your bundle of energy let it out. This presented one challenge: how do let him be creative?

Creativity comes in many forms, and it’s easy to unintentionally limit ourselves to the “arts and crafts” angle of things. I’ve learned through my son that the key to fostering creativity in a restless toddler is to use their strengths toward that means.


My son taught me this lesson, by showing me just how creative he really is. As he grew into toddlerhood, he started to take apart everything he saw. But it didn’t stop there. He’s take apart the pen, and stick the barrel into a hole on the bottom of a toy, and then sing into it. He had just created himself a microphone!

Here is a breakdown of some fun activities and ideas that will help you foster creativity in a restless toddler:

  1. Building toys: Building toys incorporate real-life problem solving and engineering skills! They allow your child to come up with new things, be creative, and find the right solution to make it work. Having used building toys from an early age, we found that some worked better than others. My son’s favorite is pipe builders.
  2. Large scale art: If your child just doesn’t want to sit, but likes to create, try creating art on a large scale. Use a roll of butcher paper with some crayons, or try a white shower curtain liner with some homemade finger paints.
  3. Creating on a vertical plane: Another great solution for a child who likes to make things and be creative but can’t sit. Use an easel, attach the paper to the fridge with magnets, or try fun creative printable.
  4. Allow for exploration: At first I was frustrated with all the broken pens. Now, I learned to keep the right pens (cheap ones and promotionals) lying around. Children learn a lot of what they need to naturally, so allowing this natural creativity to come out can be lots of fun!  Offer plenty of space and opportunity for exploration.  Create areas of your home where it’s ok to “mess things up” and let your toddler dwell there.
  5. Focus on process: Arts and crafts for toddlers tend to divide between those that are process-focused and those that are outcome-focused.  With a restless toddler, focus on the process. This eliminates the need to keep her attention for an extended period of time, and puts the ball in her hands. Case in point: I tried sitting my son down and showing him how to make an Elmo by putting googly eyes onto a blob of red play dough. He had no interest, even though he loves Elmo. But when I sat him down with craft sticks, plastic knives, and other things that he can stick into the dough and let him drive the activity, he sat and created his own projects for a surprisingly long time. He even showed me that he made a clubhouse (though it looked like nothing of the sort.)
  6. Allow for movement: I used to place my son in the high chair to “craft”. I learned that when we do try sit-down activities, it’s much more successful at the table. He leaves, comes back, and leaves again (which is another reason that process-focused activities work better). But he usually does something and afterwards, feels proud.
  7. Do it as a group: My son had no interest in painting – until he saw other kids do it too!  Invite some friends for a play date and get crafty together!
  8. Turn interests into a creative outlet:  Most toddlers have things they like to do (witness my son’s tendency to take pens apart). If your toddler likes collecting the leaves outside, show her how they can be arranged into shapes. If he is obsessed with cars and other vehicles, try using them in place of brushes to create “car track paintings.”

Most toddlers will be happy to get creative – and learn so much on the way!  Mold creative activities to their needs, and you will have successfully fostered creativity in a restless child.

moms and craftersMenucha, a New York mom to a restless toddler, loves music and dancing, hates to sit still, and crafts whenever she can. Menucha enjoys sharing the inspiration with her hand-illustrated coloring pages for moms!  Visit her blog, Moms & Crafters, for easy craft tutorials for all ages, an authentic and positive spin on parenting toddlers, and more. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.