Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part 2: Charcoal

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part 2: Charcoal

Kate from An Everyday Story is here to share the next post in her series about introducing authentic art materials to toddlers. Today she is exploring charcoal…

Hi everyone. So tell me, how did your little one enjoy playing with clay? Today I thought I would talk about one of our other favorite art materials; charcoal.

Charcoal is another inexpensive art material that is really responsive to a toddler touch. The dark contrast of the black on crisp white paper really invites a little one in to explore.

I often find that when presented with black, particularly with painting or oil pastels, it seems to dominate the other colors. Sarah will use the black more heavily than any other color. Now I offer black by itself and charcoal is the perfect medium.

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part 2: Charcoal

I think a little bit of effort to create an inviting art activity goes a long way towards an authentic experience. You might like to consider:

  • a plain table cloth so as not to distract from the materials and activity
  • crisp white paper
  • a shallow bowl or tray for the charcoal
  • a clipboard or background for the paper – to focus your little one’s attention on the materials

While your toddler is exploring you could encourage them to:

  • hold the charcoal in their hand
  • explore the texture of the charcoal
  • see what happens when you press lightly, or really hard
  • see what kinds of marks they can make

Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers Part 2: Charcoal charcoal-4

After they have had a chance to really explore this new medium, maybe after a few sessions, you could:

  • show them how to blend the charcoal by dotting their finger on the paper
  • press down and run their finger across the page
  • see what happens when they use their whole hand
  • show them how to rub the long side of the charcoal across the page
  • introduce some coarser, thicker paper and see how this changes how the charcoal moves

My daughter Sarah is still discovering how charcoal works; how it moves and how much pressure it takes to make a mark. She isn’t creating representational drawings yet, rather still enjoys the rhythmical motions of moving the charcoal round and round and back and forth across the page.

These early experiences with authentic art materials allow her to become highly familiar with a range of art mediums. Toddlers explore mostly through their senses and so this is a wonderful time to introduce different art materials, like charcoal and clay.

So, have a damp cloth handy for wonderfully blackened hands, set out some charcoal sticks and enjoy exploring with your toddler.

Have fun and I’ll see you again next month for the 3rd part of our Authentic Art Materials for Toddlers series.


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