Toddler Art with Paper Plates

Crappy Baby was messing around with all the paper plates scattered across the floor.

(Those black things in the pictures below? Paper plates. Large ones and small ones. These are leftovers from their pirate birthday party last fall, now repurposed as craft materials. My drawings are sliding downhill if I have to explain them this much.)

He says he is going to make Mickey Mouse. 


He starts with the face. Good choice. 


He adds an ear using one of the smaller plates. In the correct place! I’m impressed.


And then he does it again! I’m super impressed. Have you ever seen toddler art? It sucks. Their first attempts at humanoid shapes just look like amoebas. After that, the proportions are all whack.  

But this, this is GOOD! Accurate!

(How clever that Mickey Mouse’s logo is so simple. Just three circles. A toddler can not only recognize it but they can replicate it. Brilliant.)

Then he grabs one more plate. Uh oh. No, stop! You don’t need another plate, it is perfect already!

Sigh. Here is where it is going to go to shit.


Told you.


Honestly, I thought he was going to add Mickey Mouse’s penis.

Yes, he knows the word sternum and where it is. Haven’t I told you what an anatomy nerd my husband is? He has won awards, people.

Okay, actually it is just because he hears it each day when Crappy Boy adjusts his car seat chest buckle slider thingy and asks, “Is it on my sternum?” (And it always is, car seat police. Always is.) 

This entry was posted in crappy pictures, doing art, parenting, toddlers. Bookmark the permalink.

103 Responses to Toddler Art with Paper Plates

  1. Jill says:

    LOL that is hilarious that he knows the word sternum! I love randomness like this, there is so much of it with toddlers.

  2. Canadian Dad says:

    My child is still laughing at farts….no sternum discussions yet! PS – 45 more points for me!!!

    • Jenn says:

      I’m 37 and *I* still laugh at farts. Especially the ones I like to leave in elevators like little presents to be unwrapped.


      • Paige says:

        That made me LOL… “little presents to be unwrapped”…
        and thank you for making me feel better about myself for not being the only grownup (and I use that term loosely) who still thinks farts are funny. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Emily says:

          Farts get unfunny? No way, man. It’ll *never* happen. I doubt I’ll make past 70 but if I do, I’ll still be laughing at farts. I turn 30 this year and I have no children. Don’t plan on having children and I read this blog just because the pictures amuse me and the stories are absurd. They’re on the same level as my drawing ability. But if you crazy parents are trying to tell me farts get unfunny, I’m outta here… ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Canadian Dad says:

            I’m so glad we all agree on this topic! It’s tough to know these things as a Dad sometimes. It’s not exactly a conversation we bring up with other women.

          • WendyLew says:

            I totally agree – farts are funny! In fact, I once broke up with a guy because he believed women didn’t fart. What do you think happens… if we didn’t fart, we might explode! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom fans of the crappy pictures blog!

      • kelly kelly says:

        Ha! Disgusting

      • Gilli says:

        Oh my God, you guys are soooo funny!!!! Love it!!

  3. Rachel says:

    My son would have gone with the penis.

    • Melissa says:

      Mine too.

    • Betsi says:

      I’ll second that x4 for my boys.

    • Nickole says:

      Lol, mine would have too. He loves his penis.

      • Angela says:

        My two as well. Kindergarten teacher really appreciated the anotomically-correct drawing of our family this year. Just in case there was any confusion about how many males were in our family.

        • Mel says:

          Mine would have gone with penis too. He’s discovered that he loves the shower and now regularly joins me. To get more time under the water I introduced him to drawing in the steam on the glass. Except now all he wants me to do is draw the family’s bottoms and genitals.

  4. Laura B. says:

    I love this!

  5. Lucy says:

    When you first get “art” that isn’t just “one line on a piece of paper” it does make your heart melt.

    We’ve had a lot of anatomically correct cows recently, with bright pink udders. My fault for taking him to stay on a farm at calving time, frankly.

    My son would have definitely drawn a penis. Mind you, my husband would have drawn a penis, and chortled childishly.

  6. And I didn’t know the answer when my pediatrician asked if my 1 year old (at the time) knew his body parts. I wanted to tell her that he was saying duodenum when he meant his epiglottis, but I just hung my head and said I had no idea.

    • Lacey Sutton says:

      Dodged that question! Maybe My pediatrician willl ask at this checkup… so far the answer is no. At 15 months my son is just not picking up on many names for THINGS yet… he knows “kitty” and he barks for dogs, and I SWEAR this morning he said “duck” (it was a penguin, but still!). But I can’t wait for my son to get both body parts AND counting down – he has polydactylism. Just one extra little toe, but it’s not interfering with anything and so we’re leaving it on until he is old enough to decide if he thinks it’s cool or weird ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Pamela says:

        Bummer! I had that. Shoes are going to suck and hurt until it’s corrected…and even then it still hurts occasionally…

      • Michelle M says:

        At 15 months, every single animal my son saw was a doggy … only it was “goggy.” That first trip to the zoo was sure fun… “goggy, goggy, goggy!”

        He’s eight now … I miss those days ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Tia says:

    “Their first attempts at humanoid shapes just look like amoebas.” <—This! Yes! Thanks so much for the weekly laughs.

  8. Carrie says:

    Priceless! I hope you took a picture of his creation. Aren’t those first art attempts precious?

  9. Chloe says:

    I definitely thought he was going with penis.. its what my 2 year old would have done.

    That or boobies.

    • Chrystal says:

      Mine would have done boobies and then said “O’s milk?!” o being little brother.

  10. Amanda Dahle says:

    So funny, I wasn’t expecting sternum! LOL

    • Pamela says:

      Is it bad that I actually pictured”scrotum” instead of sternum because I was expecting the worst? Lol.

  11. Liz says:

    This is great, I love it when little ones know things they aren’t expected to know that they pick up from their family. Is your husband in medicine or just an anatomy geek for fun?

  12. RR says:

    I love the car seat police shout out.

  13. KiwiBunnz says:

    I am training to be a midwife… my 2 year old son has seen birth videos (and asked to watch them again.) Maybe if I try to teach him the parts of the foetal skull and pelvis, I would learn them too…

    • Alli says:

      My two year old son loves watching birth videos as well! He goes ape when the babies crown and yells at the assistants, “help the perineum!!!” He desperately wants me to have another baby so he can, “see Mama’s baby fly out of the ‘gina”. I told him we were done and he would just have to be satisfied with his 6 month old sister.

    • Heather says:

      One of my students was learning the regions of the body and her child wanted to help. So she wrote the regions on post-its and then stuck them on her child. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. cwm says:

    it’s funny that little one can’t seem to figure out that legs (or sternums) don’t come out straight of our heads, there is a whole abdominal area that they just ignore ….yet, they are completely aware of belly buttons….curious.

    • mrs wormwood says:

      exactly. I tell my three year old to do a body… she looks at me like I’m insane, so I tell her to a belly and she just puts a dot ranomly on the amoeba. sigh…..

      • Amy says:

        LOL my little girl (2 1/2) puts eyes all over her amoeba… no arms or legs or sternums… just a blob with eyes! “this is eye, this is eye, ‘nother eye.”

  15. Rosanne C says:

    The Mouse knows how to market!

    But I love the random anatomy–maybe a doctor-to-be? I honestly don’t think my son’s heading to med school–after looking at pictures from around his birth, including my enormous 9-month belly and his first (breastfed) meal, my four year old patted my breast and said, “It looks like you have another baby in your tummy, Mommy.”

  16. Kerry says:

    Sometimes I steal my daughter’s art away when it’s at that really good stage. Before she can scribble all over it. Or add stuff -like sternums- that turn it weird, or too hard to interpret. I do it when she’s not looking, of course. I think she’ll be thankful later. Then again, I also appreciate the freaky stuff she comes up with when I leave her to it, too….

    • amber says:

      This reminds me of a quote (was it in a movie? a book? I can’t remember!) that was something about whether or not kids are artistic geniuses but really it is all about stopping them at the perfect point. So true!

      • Sara Munoz says:

        Brilliant and brilliant. I can not agree more. Is it bad that this bugs me? (And Kerry, I steal art in progress too.)

      • Angela says:

        I remember this – it was that 4-year old girl who painted. Inspired art or her parents making her stop just in time???

    • Elly says:

      we had one of those moments yesterday… drawing the family (some with “sternums” some with arms where ears would normally be) and it looked pretty cute… till i had to sort smallest and came back to all the faces coloured in blue…. not so cute anymore, just a creepy family of drowned people!.. shudder


  17. BeckyKay says:

    We taught our son the word “uvula”. Mostly because he had a plastic orca whale with a pronounced uvula and he kept saying it was the whale’s “weiner”…

    The doctor about fell out of her chair when he told her not to touch his uvula when she was checking his throat!

  18. Holly says:

    When my now 18 year old was 4 my mother was in nursing school and Britani spent alot of time sitting in her lap while she was studying. She fell at preschool one day and told the teacher she hurt her gluteus maximus. They pick up everything at that age!!

    • Britani says:

      Your daughter shares my name spelling!! I rarely, rarely see it spelled that way so I got excited ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Megan says:

    I so needed that laugh and I did indeed LOL! Right now, we are going through the massive scribbles on paper that are either a “map” or a “roller coaster” with our 4-year-old. We somehow seemed to have skipped human forms altogether.

  20. Liz F says:

    I’m trying to teach DS “phalanges” ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Amber says:

      I’m trying to teach my DS “phalanges” too ” He already knows his humerus because his cousin broke hers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Natalie B says:

    hahahaha that’s awesome. I’m totally going to start saying “sternum” around my baby boy.

  22. Mandy B says:

    Tee hee, love it! I think my daughter would’ve added boobies next… but who knows?

  23. Brilliant.
    My little one once drew a spider. First, a great black scrawly circle. Then she started adding its legs. She got to eight, but then carried on adding more and more legs. When she got to drawing – maybe the 25th leg – I asked. ‘So how many legs DOES a spider have?’ She stopped for a second, gave me a withering look, and replied sternly, ‘As many as I like.’

  24. Amy L says:

    My sister in law was in kindergarten or grade 1 and drew a picture of her farm horse “Smoke” who is a gelding. So he got what looked like a 5th leg drawn onto him. She said it was his Wiener and my mother in law in a state of panic,because the poster was for school, turned it into a saddle stirrup. I laugh like crazy still thinking about it.

    • Kari says:

      Stop! I almost peed myself reading this comment. Good thing I’m reading on the loo.

  25. Some of my favorite toddler art my kids did was always on the damn magnadoodle so it got erased. I have all kinds of photos of a purple screen with black line drawings on it, but it’s not the same as having a good drawing to save. If they did something wonderful and asked if they could do it again on paper they always looked at me like I was weird.

  26. Melinda says:

    Make sure you save a few plates and napkins from each birthday. When they turn into teens, they will get a kick out of using the random plates for a bizarro birthday party. I have a wonderful mishmosh of Barney, Powder Puff girls, Blues Clues, etc. Never ending strange fun…

  27. Emily M says:

    You always make me laugh. Thank you.

  28. Ginny King says:

    haaaaaaah! Love it! One of my girls used to do the stick figures with enormous heads, but nothing was connected – like the body was invisible. Then she started drawing dark circles at the top of the legs…in the middle… I asked her what the dark circle was, mentally cringeing waiting for her response. She got a little exasperated “Uh, it’s her belly button, Mommy!” Duh!…

    • Francesca says:

      That’s exactly what my daughter’s early people looked like, down to the belly button.

  29. Pete says:

    Good for him, although it’s only now when I have a toddler into mickey mouse that I realised his ears always are left and right of his head, the classic profile, no matter which way he’s looking.


    If you don;t believe me go watch a cartoon, the ears stayed fixed even as the head moves.

    • Courtney says:

      ITS SO TRUE!!
      I watch *entirely* too much mickey mouse clubhouse (you want a synopsis of every episode ever aired? No? Think about it and get back to me) and you never lose the mickey silhouette. In fact, when my now 2 year old daughter was about 3 months our pediatrician told us to use a mickey picture to stimulate her vision because it was basic shapes and black and white…my hubby was immediately impressed by disneys ability to brainwash kids from day 1
      And yeah, totally worked.

  30. Heather says:

    I teach Human Anatomy and Physiology. Hubby teaches Comparative Anatomy and studies fish phylogenetics (names new species and figures out who is related to who). At 2 my child could show his Ear Nose and Throat Dr where his frontal and nasal bones were. I won’t even tell you about the evolution discussions we have with him now that he is 6. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Maggie says:

    You’re the best. Love this…

  32. This cracks me up! Pretty sure this will be my kid. I have obsessions with words like “phalanges” and “vestigial structure.” I seriously CAN NOT hear someone talk about a tail bone without talking about how it’s a vestigial structure. Nerd.

    Your kid is great!

  33. Heidi says:

    My husband’s favorite thing to teach our toddlers is where their filtrum is. Do you know where that is? I had no clue until my oldest was a year and she came told me. Wow.

    • Sara Munoz says:

      OK, I googled. Awesome! I never knew what that was called. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks.

    • Liz says:

      I know, I know! It’s what we affectionately call “the snot ditch” around my house. The only way I remember is because I associate it with “filtering” the snot down out of your nose, thus, “philtrum”. (<— the correct spelling, btw)

    • Jenn says:

      If you have a kid who likes the Barenaked Ladies’ “Snacktime” CD, you’d know where it is! LOL
      “There’s a word for that
      But I don’t seem to know it
      Sometimes I grow a moustache just so I don’t have to show it
      The word for that
      That someone,somewhere chose
      For that little dented skin between my upper lip and nose”

      • Kory says:

        Ha! Love that album. I’m going to make alphabet flash cards with their abc song!

      • Lidia says:

        Hahaha. I missed the quotes showing you were writing the lyrics and thought for a moment that you were admitting letting your mustache grow. Not that you have one :).

  34. Sarah says:

    Well, you are calling them “crappy pictures…”

    Love it all.

  35. Marta says:

    LOL. I so did not see that coming. I don’t think I even truly know where my sternum is.

  36. Natalie says:

    Hilarious! Reminds me of when my son at the age of 4 was drawing himself, naked, with two rather large round shapes in between his legs. Imagine my shock – but he looked at me with that “doh” face and went “they’re my buttocks, Mummy!”

  37. Kory says:

    Hilarious. My 3yr old would have made sure he had a bum. In fact, her first animal drawings were just the bum… Me: What’s that? DD: It’s a dog. But you can’t see his head or his tummy or his legs. Just his bum. Me: Oh, I see. What’s this one? DD: A cow. But you can’t see his head or his eyes or his legs. Just his bum.

  38. Vy says:

    Ha! Sternum.

    I had my son write a thank you note to his aunt who sent him dinosaurs, and he drew a stegosaurus to accompany the note. It was awesome! Until he put boy parts on it. Fortunately, he made that part green, so I’m hoping she just thought it was grass or something. (Yes, I sent it. I wasn’t going to risk having him draw something even less appropriate on the redo.)

  39. Ancy says:


    My son who just turned five has been drawing pretty proportionally correct people last few weeks. Last week he drew a picture of Amma (me, his mother)- she was wearing a dress but it apparently was see through because there was a picture of my boobs– two circles with dots in the middle. First I laughed my head off then thought with dread- what if he draws me in school???

  40. Lidia says:

    Asking if it on’s his sternum to accurately describe the placement of the chest clip on his car seat is very intelligent. What question does my son ask? Is it at my armpits? Yes, sir. It’s at the pits.

  41. lol. this cracked me up. I’m at work. Laughing out loud, prolly not the best idea. My work isn’t that funny. Thanks for the laugh!

  42. Jordan McBride says:

    My toddler will tell me words I don’t even know. -.-

  43. Chrissy says:

    “Here is where it is going to go to shit” LMAO. love, Love, LOVE this blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Pam S. says:

    Years ago, my grandson told my daughter, “Mommy I accidentally did a bad thing. I drew Mickey Mouse giving the finger.” Of course I insisted on a digital copy when she (immediately) called to tell me about it. (Ha ha ha just saw that pun, am leaving it in.)

    The artwork had been edited before she could send it. Daughter to grandson, “Why did you write Gramma S.’s name at the top of your picture?” Grandson, “Because Gramma S. likes bad things.”

    Ah ha ha ha ha. I had keyrings made up. My brother topped that, though by surprising us with our very own T shirts of the picture, captioned “Gramma S. likes bad things.”

    Daughter put grandson’s shirt away, said we were encouraging him. She’s no fun. Hmm…wonder where it is now…I’ll bet grandson has grown enough to wear one of the adult shirts…I’m off to dig through closets.

  45. Pia says:

    I like this post a lot! Little kids using big words and within context are very very funny!!!!

  46. Tracy says:

    Ha Ha! I love that he says sternum. My husband taught our daughter at 17 months run amok, so now when she is in a shopping cart, we are trying to keep her in a plane seat, etc and she wants to run around she will yell Amock! Amock! Amock!

  47. Kara says: can go horribly wrong when seen from the perspective of a pre-schooler/toddler. My oldest came home from pre-school one day, around age three, with a “picture of Daddy”. Between the legs a loooooong line was drawn. I asked what it was. “Daddy’s Penis!” Hmm…German kindergartens are more lax about anatomically accurate pictures. Having no clue how to respond, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “Okay..obviously not drawn to scale, but, okay.”

  48. kk says:

    I had a friend in her 30’s that didn’t know where her sternum was. I keep thinking to myself that I want to make sure my son knows what a sternum is. I guess it’s not too early to teach him. I’m impressed!

  49. neal says:

    lately I’ve been wondering how when the censoring process will start with my two year old. She’s not yet drawing genitalia, but she can draw two eyes, a nose, and a mouth where they are supposed to go, and just in the last month she’s been proudly pointing out to her friends and family that her “bump” is on the back side of her body, and her “Gyna” is on the front side. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, seems to be her philosophy.

  50. Iโ€™m there with you.

  51. KC says:

    I did an entire month long exploration of toddler art on my blog! Toddler art is so funny because they don’t care about the outcome only the process. This made me giggle so much!

  52. Woolies says:

    Sternum? I’m not sure that my teenagers know where or what the sternum is. You’re raising a genius child.

  53. hrl says:

    That is too cute!

  54. Jessica says:

    This story is hilarious and so true of children! I was just told about this site yesterday and I can’t stop reading. I absolutely adore this website…thank you Amber for creating this and sharing your stories ๐Ÿ™‚
    BTW-I noticed crappy baby’s diaper changed colors per story and picture and thought to myself “If she has changed the colors because she uses disposable diapers that is the cutest thing” I just looked at your “About Me” section and low and behold he is in a disposable diaper ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, hope you and your family are blessed and please keep these cute stories coming!!

  55. elizabeth says:

    mickey mouse’s penis. LOL

  56. Mickey looks great with a sternum! I was expecting penis too!

  57. Sarah says:

    Just wanted to comment because you drew this post on May 8, 2012- the day I had my planned c section at 37 weeks and had my rainbow baby girl, Myah.