OK, here are a few more ideas. A lot of these are really structured -- I think it's important to balance with non-structured arts and crafts play. Also some of these might be too much for a 2.5 year old, so just save them for later. We really like the Kool-Aid painting and the bubble painting.
Use the kitchen sponges that you are able to put soap into the handle, and fill with tempera paint. The children love to sponge paint with these. I find that coming up with new ways to paint keeps the activity popular!
T-shirt Art Cut out shapes-Holidays, leaves, etc. out of contact paper. Stick to shirt in desired pattern. Using spray bottles, small plastic ones from dollar store, fill with the following: One cup warm water One teaspoon salt One tablespoon Rit Dye Liquid Shake lightly. Put newspaper in the middle of the shirt so the paint doesn't seep from front to back (waxed paper also works) Now, spray the shirt lightly around the contact paper with one, two, or more colors. Blot the contact paper parts before lifting the shirt up, so, the paint won't drip. Then, let dry. Neat huh?
Instead of letting younger children only paint with fingers, brushes, and paint.... take a sheet of brightly colored tissue paper and wet the end. Give it to the children and let them paint colorful pictures with no paint mess!!!!
Spaghetti Painting: Cook a pound of spaghetti and toss it with a little oil so it won't stick together. Give each child a hand full and have them dip the spaghetti into pie tins of paint, then place it onto construction paper. If they don't want to use their hands, have them use tongs. It looks really cool and it's okay if they mix the colors!
Scratch N Sniff Mix a Package of Kool-Aid with 1 TBSP of warm water. Let the children paint with it and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Scratch N Sniff the paintings. Use various flavors of Kool-Aid for different smells.
This is a great one for toddlers, it's called see through art. Materials: cooking oil White paper Newspaper Crayons , markers Paper towel or napkins Directions: 1. Cover the tables with newspaper 2. Let the children create any image they want on the paper. 3. Turn the white paper to the back side. 4. Smear oil on the back on the paper with the napkin or paper towel 5. Hang the paper by the window and the art is transparent
Maracas Materials: 2 small paper plates, watercolors, stapler , and rice. The kids love making these and then have a band to play them in .First you need to take the paper plates pour some rice in them and then put them together and staple them . After that you can take the water colors and paint them . they dry really fast and you can tell them a tune to play and have a band. It is so much fun.
Edible Necklaces You will need 'shoelaces' of licorice and a box of Cheerio cereal. Thread the licorice shoelaces with the cheerios and tie up. The kids can wear these around their necks prior to going home and can eat them having shown their Mum and Dad's! This originally started as an idea for feeding the birds (by hanging from a tree) but the kids liked them so much they started eating them!
We just learned this at a staff meeting. It was so much fun, I thought I'd pass it on (even though I haven't tried it with the kids yet). It involves bio-degradable Styrofoam peanuts. Many shippers are using them now. When they are dampened, they stick!! Not only to each other but to anything else with which they come in contact! At the meeting we dabbed the "S" shaped pieces on a wet sponge to dampen them, then we had way too much fun sticking them everywhere. If the kids have half as much fun as we did, this will be a keeper!!
Bungee painting -- You will need : knee high panty hose, sand or kitty litter, various colors of tempera paint, large pieces of paper. BEFORE HAND---- fill knee highs w/ 1/4 cup of sand or kitty litter, place paint on flat surfacepaper plate...... Let children dip fat end of hose in paint then let them bounce their bungees on their paper.... it might be easier for their paper to be on the floor...... This is allot of fun and my father volunteers had a great time too
Take tennis balls and put them in different colors of tempera paints. Put a large piece of construction paper in the bottom of a deep box. Then drop the paint covered tennis balls into the box. It splatters on the paper, creating an interesting design. Do this outdoors and be prepared for the children to get a little messy!!
Marble Painting This is a fun activity with almost no mess! Place a sheet of paper in the bottom of a plastic tub. Coat 4 or 5 marbles in tempera paint. Drop marbles onto paper in tub (I use a spoon to lift them out of the paint). Have children tilt tub in different directions to create patterns. These papers are great for other art activities too.
Another variation of marble painting Ask the parents in your classroom to save Pringles' Potato Chip cans for you. When you have several cans, cut paper to fit inside of the can. Dip marbles into paint and place into the can. Put on the lid and have the children shake, shake, shake the can. This makes really cool patterns on the paper, also.
Prepare bubble solution with various food colors in separate trays. Allow the children to blow bubbles onto art paper and watch them pop. This will create interesting effects and the children love it!
Fly Swatter Painting Materials: Plastic fly Swatters, assorted colors of paint in bowls, paint brushes, and butcher paper. 1. Have the children "paint" the fly swatters with their choice of paint. 2. Now swat the paper. This activity will leave wonderful designs on the paper and the children love "swatting" the paper.