Textures galore and easy construction opportunities make these two materials ideal for toddler play.
Art Project: Styrofoam + Chenille Sculptures
--Styrofoam (Someone donated half-spheres to me, but you could use almost any chunky pieces of styrofoam. I recommend cutting down one of those big chunky pieces that come with electronics or other large items shipped in boxes. Or raid your local appliance store's dumpster...)
--Chenille stems or pipe cleaners (this is an excellent opportunity to use up any pieces that have been cut into awkwardly short lengths or twisted up and used so many times that they're hard to jam back into the bag.)
A porcupine named Fluffy / Lester, Helen
What Kids Do: Some artists chose to just stick the pipe cleaners into the styrofoam straight(ish):
Look closely--these two sculptures are holding hands!
And speaking of satisfying sensory exploration... wow! These two materials had it all!
Hindsight Tip: I loved how some of the kids incorporated more than one chunk of styrofoam into their sculpture. Make sure you have enough of each supply item that no one's creativity is cut short because of a shortage of these rather inexpensive supplies.
Adult Challenge: "Give your child permission to experiment and 'fail'" Of course, there are no failures in Toddler Art Class, but there are also no right or wrong ways to make art. Some kids just wanted to play with the styrofoam, some just wanted to play with the pipe cleaners and see what those materials could do on their own and that is a totally acceptable way to interact with the art. They might struggle with pushing the pipe cleaners into the styrofoam, but instead of taking over their project, ask, "What could you change that might make it easier?" or "I wonder what would happen if you held the pipe cleaner down closer to the tip?" or "Here are several different sizes of pipe cleaners. Are any of these easier to put in than the one you're trying?" Discovering the answer on their own will be a lesson that sticks with them longer (and they'll have a greater sense of pride) than if you just "fix" it for them.