For little ones with big imaginations, art is a way of exploring the world and expressing their feelings. With no rules or right answers, it’s all about using materials in a way that feels natural. There are endless ways to get creative and experiment with art.
Crafting with your kids doesn’t have to be an ambitious project—it can be as simple as drawing on the chalkboard in your kitchen or the one at the local coffee shop, and coloring with sidewalk chalk outside (just make sure you have a bucket of water nearby). If you’re feeling really ambitious, try making homemade finger paint for a fun activity that will give you time to bond and allow your kids to showcase their creativity. You can even use a few drops of food coloring to make it extra colorful.
When it comes to art projects, families are often faced with two possibilities: expensive art supplies or cheap ones; or, simple ideas or elaborate ones. With kids, these two options can feel like they’re mutually exclusive—but what most families don’t realize is that there’s plenty of room for both in one activity. These art activities are easy-to-find items that can be transformed into something new for kids to use their imaginations with.
The best way to get kids involved with making art is to make it as easy as possible for them. That means keeping the mess contained by using simple materials like paper plates, tape, cardboard boxes—even paper towels. The point is that you don’t need fancy tools or materials to create beautiful artwork; you just need something for your kids to enjoy themselves with.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Use a collection of objects as inspiration for an artwork.
Gather stones, leaves, feathers, buttons, and other items from around the house. Then ask your child to select four or five and incorporate them into her creation. This can be as simple as gluing them onto poster paper or creating a collage with them.
2. Paper snowflakes
All that’s required is some printer paper and scissors. You can have each child choose their own color or have everyone use the same one for a cohesive look. They can even write notes to the recipient on their snowflake, if you really want to make it personal.
3. Painted rocks
Let your kid’s imaginations run wild as they paint these rocks for your garden decor. Who knows what kind of creatures or scenes they might come up with?
4. Yarn pictures
If you have yarn lying around (or maybe brought some from the craft store), show your kids how to knit a picture frame and then let them fill it up with whatever images they like. If they’re too young, they can still get involved by choosing colors or cutting out shapes.
5. Acrylic Paint in a Jar
This is a great idea because all you need is some paint and a jar! You can also use food coloring in the mix so it’s easier to see what you’re doing.
6. Sidewalk Chalk
The chalk makes for beautiful artwork outside, on your driveway or even on the sidewalk (depending on how old your child is). If you want to get really creative, try using sidewalk chalk as an alternative to paint or crayons on paper! This article has more information about the possibilities of using sidewalk chalk as a drawing medium.
7. Chalkboards are a great way to get kids excited about art.
They can draw or color on them, and they’ll be framed and ready to hang when they’re done—no waiting around for the paint to dry. If you don’t have a chalkboard yet, there are plenty of ways to make one at home or on the cheap. You can use an old board that’s too small for whatever project you originally had in mind, or you can use sheets of tileboard (which acts like whiteboard paint) and frame it later. No matter what project you choose, you can make it a learning experience by reinforcing some basic concepts—like shapes and colors.
If your kid is young, you can draw shapes on the board with chalk, then ask her to fill in the missing pieces with the same number of strokes (a circle should be drawn with three strokes, for instance). If your child is older, you can challenge her to make something specific out of the shapes she’s been given—like a house or a starfish. When it comes time to color in their drawings, have them identify primary colors—red, blue and yellow—and let them practice mixing secondary colors—green and orange.
8. Make a collage
One of the easiest natural collage ideas is to start with a large piece of paper and crayons. Let your child scribble all over the paper until they’re happy with their work. Then press leaves, flowers, and other colorful things you find outside onto the paper. You can also do this indoors by cutting out shapes in construction paper and gluing them down. If you want to get fancy, use markers and paint to color in the shapes first.
If your house is like mine, there are lots of toilet paper rolls around at any given time (I seem to remember buying quite a few packs recently). Cut off the ends and give each kid a roll or two—the smaller ones work best—and let them glue down pieces from magazines or cutouts from old calendars onto their tube. Kids might also enjoy decorating their tubes with markers or crayons.
9. Coffee Filter Art
Coffee Filter Art is a fun and unique way to incorporate art into your regular routine. The supplies are inexpensive and easy to find at any grocery store, and the activity is great for kids of all ages.
All you need is a coffee filter, some tempera paint, and an adult to help you set up the art area. If you don’t have an old coffee filter lying around your house, they’re almost always included in the packaging of new bags of coffee. Wash out your filter before starting so it doesn’t fill up with paint!
The next step is to have fun painting your coffee filters! This works especially well with younger kids because it gives them a blank slate to create whatever their imagination comes up with.
When the paint dries, hang it up on the wall. You can frame it or leave it as-is! It’s a great way for your kid’s artwork to be displayed in their room.
10. Pastel Scribbles
Pastel scribbles are a fun way to relax and get creative, but they can also be used to create some very interesting abstract art. The beautiful thing about this project is that it’s easy to do and the results are always varied, even when you follow the same steps.
The project involves using pastels (which are available at most art supply stores) to draw on your paper. You can choose your own colors or use a combination of colors that look good together—plus, you don’t have to worry about getting the proportions or angles just right because the point of this project is to relax and do whatever feels good! All you need is a piece of paper and a pastel (or two). Then, just start drawing! If the lines aren’t coming out how you want them to, just change up your motion or try a different color. This is an excellent activity for kids of all ages who can sit still for at least 15 or 20 minutes.
11. Mosaic Artwork
Mosaic artwork is a great activity for kids because it’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. There are plenty of instructions all over the internet on how to make your own mosaic pictures, but they’re all variations on a theme: basically you’re taking small pieces of colored tile or glass (can be found at any craft store) and placing them onto a large piece of paper or cardboard in a way that creates your picture. That’s it.
I suggest cutting out shapes from magazines that represent things your child loves at the moment—we made snowflakes for winter, hearts for Valentines Day, clouds and birds for summer, etc. Then gather up your materials: either some premade or homemade tiles (the pansy mosaic project from Martha Stewart has instructions for making your own), glue or grout (any kind will do), and some really colorful magazines.
Then just start sticking! If you’re using tiles, cut them into appropriate sizes with scissors according to how big you want the finished product to be, put some glue on the back of one side of each tile and stick them down in whatever pattern you want. If you’re using magazine pages, use the glue or grout to stick them onto the board wherever you’d like.