Easy Canvas Painting Activity For Toddlers 2 Years Old and Up + Free Template!

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Recently my daughter, who is 2.5 years old, has taken a rather big interest in painting. I’m sure it is from watching all of us paint while building our barn.

How To Make Painting Fun?

I will say, I had to prepare myself for this crafting activity. You are giving your toddler paint. Just typing that makes my anxiety kick in a bit. Yes, it will be messy but it will be a great learning experience for them.

If your child is not showing interest in painting, let them pick out the colors or the template/stencil to use. My daughter LOVES rainbows and butterflies at the moment. I knew those would be a big hit with her, and they were!


Canvas or thick cardstock paper


Paint brushes or foam brushes

Painting smock

Placemat (newspaper, etc)

Cutting Machine (Silhouette, Cricut)

Template or Stencil

Canvas Painting Set-up

After collecting all your supplies, decide on the best location for your toddler to paint. This can be a kids activity table or kitchen counter with a learning tower. 

I prefer to use our learning tower at the counter, it helps keep my daughter contained easier. It’s a great height for activities, like this, and many more!

Rainbow stencil on white canvas

I used 2 disposable placemats below each canvas to make cleaning up a breeze! You can also use newspaper with a few pieces of scotch tape to keep your placemat secure. 

I used my Silhouette Cameo 4 to cut out a stencil and apply it to the canvas. You can find so many fun designs at Design Bundles and Creative Fabrica. I have had subscriptions to both of these sites in the past and really enjoyed it. I have linked the butterfly and rainbow files I used below.

Butterfly (similar, could not find original design link)


If you would like a FREE template for your Silhouette and Cricut machines, sign up below for my FREE resource library. Well Erin, I’m already on your email list. No Problem! Login to the resource library with your secret code and download your template now! Easy, right!?


Lastly, suit up your toddler in their painting smock. I found this one at a consignment sale for $1! However, there are plenty of cheap painting smocks online.

Painting With Your Toddler

Now for the fun part! 

My daughter has watched us paint numerous times around the house and in the barn, so she naturally learned quickly. If your child is having trouble using a paint brush, try letting them use a foam brush. You can also paint on the canvas with them and show them how to move the brush back and forth.

My daughter enjoyed pointing out the different colors while I painted with her.

For some reason, my daughter liked picking colors that made a poop color. Yuck! I wiped most of the paint off after we finished practicing and only used one color afterwards. 

I helped her paint on the rainbow canvas, she insisted. I colored around the edges of the canvas while she painted around the stencil.

Toddler painting rainbow canvas

By the time we started on the second canvas, she wanted to paint by herself. I was very impress with how well she handled the large paintbrush. She wanted to be like her momma. : )

toddler painting butterfly on canvas

After she finished painting on the canvases, I let her paint on a thick piece of cardstock to use up the remaining paint.

Displaying Your Toddler’s Artwork

Since we do not have a playroom to display my daughter’s artwork, I decided to hang them in her room. She loves pointing out her artwork each day.

For the cardstock paintings, I found a roll of twine at Dollar Tree and small craft clothespins. I used two push pins to attach the twine to the wall. I used command hook strips to hang her canvas artwork. You can certainly use any method you prefer to hang your child’s artwork, this worked best for us.

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