When my children were young, one of our favorite ways to spend time was doing art activities.
The specific project didn’t matter much, as long as we got to explore different materials and ideas for as long as they held our interest. I would cover our dining room table with a plastic sheet, lay another couple of them on the floor, and we’d all jump in.
Here were our guidelines:
- Get messy
- Try, without focusing on the end result
- Say kind things about what we were creating
- Use different materials, colors, textures
- Make cleaning up together part of the fun
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, these were some of our favorite activities:
We used crayons, colored pencils and washable markers in all different sizes and configurations. Sometimes we drew on paper, sometimes on cardboard, sometimes on fabric. We wove string through pictures and layered wax paper on top. It didn’t matter what we used, as much as the fact that we looked around our apartment and thought, hey, let’s try that!
Just as with drawing, the fun was more about wondering what we could paint than about sticking to a particular plan. Sure, we used paper and washable paints, but we also painted hands and feet and walked all over a giant canvas. We covered bedroom walls with butcher’s paper and kept adding colors, shapes, and random materials like feathers for weeks at a time.
This was one of our all-time favorite activities. We used Play-doh, Model Magic and Sculpey clay, sometimes in colors and sometimes in plain white so that we could color it ourselves. We’d shape it with our hands, cut it out with cookie cutters, or press it through “spaghetti makers.” We made odd, magical creatures and placed them in dioramas that still sit on my bookshelves.
Even though many people wouldn’t consider this an art activity, we treated it that way. We decorated cookies using edible markers and made patterns on top of cakes with frosting, chocolate kisses, and colored sprinkles. We made faces on pizzas and arranged vegetables into 3D family members.
There was no room that was safe from our construction impulses. We used foam blocks, couch pillows, and dining room chairs to create room-sized forts. We’d drape blankets or pieces of beautiful, colorful fabrics over it all, and sit inside watching the light filter through.
There are limitless possibilities for art activities with preschoolers. And you don’t need specialized materials or training. The purpose is to share time with your child in ways that allow you to explore openly. It’s much more about the skills, bonds, and memories you’re building than the objects that come out of it. These projects help young children develop emotional, cognitive, and motor abilities, which will continue to grow as they get older.
What kinds of art projects have you done with your kids?