As parents and educators, we know that children not only crave – but need – opportunities for creative play, expression, and thinking. Here are some of the ways that Art Play helps children develop important skills - and some ideas for incorporating art and play into your child's routine!
Creative Play is Fun & Educational
For little ones, creative play is not only fun – but it also encourages children to be creative, express themselves without judgment, and explore through various art forms. Art play fosters creativity, promotes healthy childhood development, and helps develop problem-solving and other important skills.
Art experiences also positively impact academic, social, and emotional outcomes for children, helping them develop self-esteem, confidence, and creative thinking skills that will help them be successful, engaged citizens.
How Kids Benefit From Art
Incorporating art into your child’s routine doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Even better – finding ways to incorporate art and creative expression into your child’s play will help your little learner practice and develop important skills that will help them in all areas of their lives.
Develop Creativity & Imagination
Kids are naturally curious and inquisitive, but it’s important that they have time and opportunities to be creative, to try new things, to explore art in various forms, and to express themselves. Ask children to talk about what they observe around them, to tell you stories about what they see, to draw their ideas and emotions, or to make new inventions out of simple household objects. In turn, you’re helping them develop learning and observation skills, use their imagination, and more!
Support Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills
As children create, they’re building and flexing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Give them a range of materials – and some time – and watch as they explore materials, come up with ideas, experiment with design and construction, and make changes and modifications. You’ll also see them encounter and solve problems, figure out cause and effect, and develop something completely unique to them!
Enhance Social & Emotional Skills
Art and creative expression helps children explore and communicate their emotions, even in nonverbal ways. It also gives children an opportunity to create things that are uniquely theirs, that they can be proud of, and that boosts their self-esteem and confidence. As your children create, talk with them about what they are creating – but try doing so in open-ended ways. Encourage them to tell you about what they are creating. Instead of telling them an outcome (like “Draw a balloon”), let them decide what they’d like to create – and have them tell you about it. If they get frustrated, ask them what they liked or enjoyed – and what they found difficult – about the activity. Along the way, your child will be developing important communication skills – and you’ll both be learning along the way.
Improve Connections With Others
Art and other creative activities can also help children form bonds and improve connections with others. Spend time creating together – and encourage your children to explore activities with children that they may not know. As they observe others, they may try and imitate what they see. They’ll learn sharing and collaboration skills. And, they may explain what they are doing – and ask questions about what their friends or parents are creating.
Quick Tips + Age-Appropriate Art Projects
Ready to help your budding artist explore their creativity? Here are a few quick tips along with some age-appropriate art projects and activities to try.
- Incorporate art activities into playtime. You can explore lots of different activities based on your child’s interests and ages.
- Offer your children a wide variety of materials and experiences – Creativity can include drawing, painting, music, photography, clay, paper, food, and much more!
- Start with activities that are based on things your child already loves or has shown an interest in. If they love dinosaurs – draw, paint, photograph, and make dinosaur music!
- Focus more on the process, less on the product. Remember kids are exploring their creativity – the goal for them isn’t to be perfect in any way – it’s to try and learn along the way!
- Encourage children to learn about many different activities, cultures, communities, and experiences. You’ll help them discover things they enjoy (and don’t), learn about themselves, and learn about and connect with people of all backgrounds, abilities, and cultures.
Age-Appropriate Art Activities
Looking for a few developmentally appropriate art activities to try with your little one? Here are a few ideas to try!
Infants & Babies
- Sensory Exploration: Provide a variety of materials and textures for children to manipulate and explore. Here are several sensory activities you could try courtesy of the Port Discovery education team!
- Messy-Free Zip Lock Painting (Courtesy of KidsCraftroom.com): Place cardstock or thick paper into a zip lock bag. Add several colors of paint into the bag. Close the ziplock bag and then encourage your little learner to move their hands up, down and all around the bag to see what happens.
- Explore Music Together: Sing short songs you sing while getting ready for the day, eating, or bath time, play music to listen to or provide objects children can rattle or tap.
- Create Nature Prints: Provide your little learner with a variety of artistic materials – like paper, paintbrushes, crayons, and paint – and a variety of items found around your yard like leaves, small rocks, or pinecones. See what children create – and ask them to show and tell. You might find that they create drawings using a pinecone – or that they make a print of a leaf. The process of exploring and creating is what’s most important!
- Messy Art: Rolling Ball Painting: According to the pros at Gryphon House, this is a teacher-favorite activity for young children! You’ll need paint, a cardboard box, and marbles for this activity. Place paper inside the cardboard box, place a few dabs of paint on the paper and then place and roll a few marbles around in the box.
- Open-Ended Art Time: Provide your child with a variety of materials that they can draw or create with – and let them create whatever they might imagine. As they create, they may explore how to work with and use the different materials, how they feel, and use them in completely different ways than we might as adults!
- Explore Various Art Tools: Try out using different art-making tools – from pencils to erasers to paint to paintbrushes to clay and more - and fun ways to use them right at home! Check out this quick tutorial from the Port Discovery team with ideas of what kinds of tools and activities you can explore when creating two- and three-dimensional art!
- Try Creative Writing & Storytelling: Encourage children to express themselves and flex their imaginations as they tell stories and write! Check out some ideas for encouraging children to explore this creative art form!
We hope that these tips, tools, and ideas help you as you explore arts with your little one! Looking for other ideas? Explore Port Discovery’s At Home Play Library, filled with inspiration for playful arts, music, theater, and many other ways to play! Also, be sure to check out activities happening at Port Discovery Children’s Museum as well – from creating together in the StudioWorkshop to exploring theater in PD Presents and more – there are lots of ways to take part in creative arts activities together!