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Art Activities & Ideas for Kids

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
Updated
Easy, open-ended and fun art projects for kids of all ages.

Art can be beneficial for kids in many ways. It helps them develop and learn to express themselves in different ways.

In this guide, we’ll share 10 art activities and ideas for kids that are easy, inexpensive, and most important of all, colorful!

Finger Painting

This is a fun way to introduce babies and toddlers to art. They can explore the feel of paint as it oozes between their little fingers, or see the effect it has when they spread it around.

Non-Messy Finger Painting

Sounds impossible? This is suitable for babies and toddlers from the time they can lie on their tummy and lift their head and arms. I like that this introduces babies to paint without the clear up afterward.

What You Need:

  • Finger paints.
  • Paper.
  • Plastic bag.
  • Scissors.
  • Masking tape.

Crazy Monsters

This project is more suitable for kids over 3 years old. It involves using small items, which a younger child might put in their mouth.

Older kids will be able to do this with little supervision, but a younger child may need help. I like that this is an activity that kids of different ages will enjoy.

What You Need:

  • Finger paint.
  • Paintbrush.
  • Cardstock.
  • Googly eyes (of the sticky-back variety).
  • Feathers.

Let Your Toddler Loose

Okay, now it’s time to get messy. There’s little you can do to avoid it when introducing a toddler to finger painting, but they will have so much fun. Just make sure you use washable paints and maybe have the bath ready once they’re finished.

It’s great there are no specific instructions for this activity. Once you’re set up, let your little ones play and experiment with color.

What You Need:

  • Paper, which can be any size, but think about where the kids are painting. You might want to make sure it’s large enough to cover the area.
  • Washable, non-toxic paints.
  • Plastic, or a sheet to cover the floor or table.
  • Painting clothes. You could even leave your toddler in just a diaper if it’s warm enough.
  • Paper plate or something similar, to put the paint on.

Creative Collages

A collage involves sticking things onto a backing sheet of paper or fabric. It could be photographs, pieces of cut-out paper, or bits of string, to name a few. Here are some fun projects that kids can do to create a collage.

Leaf People

Fall is a great time of year — the heat of summer is passing and winter is on its way. Why not go for a walk and collect some colorful leaves to create a collage? This is a great way to get kids in touch with nature and be active, as well as being creative.

What You Need:

  • A selection of leaves of different sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • Glue.
  • White paper.
  • Optional googly eyes or marker pens.

This project is great for kids aged 3 or over.

Shape Collage

Kids all have different ideas about what to do with various materials and shapes. I like that this project can teach a child about shapes at the same time as making artwork. This could be done by preschool kids, with some assistance from you applying the glue.

What You Need:

  • A selection of shapes, pre-cut from different materials, such as tissue paper, brown paper, fabric, or foam.
  • Paper.
  • Glue.

I Can Make a Rainbow

Suitable for preschoolers, this project involves the use of color, scissors, and following lines. It’s ideal for helping a child recognize colors and get them acquainted with using scissors. That helps with promoting fine motor skills.

What You Need:

  • A selection of different paper in rainbow colors.
  • Patterned, glitter, or textured paper. You could recycle this from magazines, old Christmas or birthday cards, or wrapping paper.
  • PVA glue, safe for kids.
  • Cardstock, white.
  • Scissors.
  • Printer (optional). There is a template of a rainbow supplied for this project for you to print, or you can draw one yourself.

Drawing Projects

Once your kids can hold a pencil or crayon, they’ll love to draw. Starting out, it will just be some scribbles on paper, but as they get older, their creations will become more recognizable.

Tandem Drawing

This is great for you to get involved alongside your kids. You don’t have to be good at art and neither do they, but drawing together gives you valuable bonding time. It’s suitable for kids who can hold a crayon or pencil.

What You Need:

  • A selection of colored markers, pencils, or crayons.
  • Paper.

Shadow Drawing

Getting your kids to trace around shadows is a great idea to help them learn about shadows and how they change. This is a fun outdoor activity on a sunny day for kids of school age. I like that it will help teach kids to trace an outline and be more precise.

What You Need:

  • A large sheet of paper.
  • Any toy animals, figurines, dolls, or other objects that will cast a shadow.
  • Poster putty (to hold the paper or figures down if it’s windy).
  • Pencils.
  • A table or flat surface.
  • Sunshine.

Portrait Drawing for Beginners

Drawing people and faces can be a daunting task for kids. This is a great way to get them practicing. They can draw each other or it’s something mom or dad could do with a child, and is suitable for kids over the age of 4.

What You Need:

  • Clear plastic sheet protectors.
  • Dry board markers.

This is so simple, just hold up the sheet protector to your subject’s face, look through it and draw them.

Painting Projects

Painting can be simple and fun. It can transform a plain piece of paper or a household item, like an egg carton, into a work of art. It will hone your child’s fine motor skills and their hand-eye coordination, too.

Swirling Flowers

This is a quick and easy painting project that allows children to experiment with color and mix them together. I like the results are seen quickly, which will stop kids from getting bored. It can be done by any child who can hold a paintbrush.

What You Need:

  • Various colors of tempera paint.
  • Flat paintbrushes, medium size.
  • Heavy paper.

Bubble Painting

Painting doesn’t always have to involve brushes. I love the simplicity of this bubble painting technique and the unique pictures it creates. This is something that older kids could do on their own or younger ones with mom or dad’s help.

What You Need:

  • Paper cups.
  • Water.
  • Watercolor paints.
  • Sugar.
  • Dishwashing soap.
  • Plastic straws.
  • Paper.

Sunburst Paintings

With a ruler, pencil, and some paints, your child can create a colorful painting to hang on the wall. For younger kids, help might be needed, but older kids will be able to do this on their own. I like that this gives kids the freedom to choose the color, but also to be able to show patience and constraint staying in the lines.

What You Need:

  • Ruler.
  • Pencil.
  • Watercolors.
  • Paintbrush.
  • Small circular object (like a bottle top).
  • Watercolor paper.
  • Water (to rinse brushes).
  • A piece of cardboard and some painter’s tape.

Arts and Crafts With Household Items

Art that can be done on a whim with items you have around the home saves you time and money. No waiting to go to the art store to get expensive supplies. Just throw together a few things you have on hand and let your kids create.

Egg Carton Cars

I like that these cars can be made quickly and easily from things most of us have lying around the house.

What You Need:

  • Egg cartons.
  • Paints.
  • Paintbrushes.
  • Buttons.
  • Glue.
  • Sharpie pen.
  • White foam or thick paper.

This project could even be completed by preschoolers with a little help.

Coloring With Kitchen Towel

This is so simple and effective. It takes minutes to set up and will keep your little ones amused for some time. This should be suitable for most kids who can hold a marker pen and draw some dots on paper.

What You Need:

  • A plate.
  • A sheet of kitchen towel.
  • Marker pens.
  • Water.
  • Pipette.

String Art

Got some yarn or embroidery thread left over from other projects? You can use this to let your kids create string art, and get them used to the basics of sewing at the same time. As this involves using a needle, it’s a better project for older kids.

What You Need:

  • A thick sheet of paper, like cardstock.
  • Scissors.
  • Pencil.
  • Thick needle.
  • Yarn or thick thread.
  • Pom poms and glue, if you’d like.

You could make a string art dinosaur, butterfly, car, truck, or whatever strikes your kid’s fancy. The principle of creating the holes and then randomly feeding the thread through remains the same.

Headshot of Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett is a veteran board-certified pediatrician with three decades of experience, including 19 years of direct patient clinical care. She currently serves as a medical consultant, where she works with multiple projects and clients in the area of pediatrics, with an emphasis on children and adolescents with special needs.
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