Recently, parents have been asking us for art projects their children can do at home. Kids are hungry for hands-on activities, and parents need a break to get some work done. Some children just aren’t interested in drawing one more picture. What’s a parent to do?
Once you have an art space set up, Primary Art Teacher Loriann Signori suggests setting some building challenges for your child. “Children spend hours building at recess. They are hungry for any materials I can provide. Cardboard boxes disappear immediately. This kind of activity encourages resourcefulness and helps young artists see the value of everyday, often cast-off items. It can go on forever!”
Creative Challenges to Ignite the Brain
- Build the tallest structure you can without it falling over. Or, set a height challenge, get the yardstick out, and work in some measuring skills.
- Create a game. Here’s an inspiring video about how one young boy built his own arcade! Board games and card games are also engaging.
- Make a robot, a car, a machine, or an animal. Complex forms require lots of creativity and problem-solving.
- Design a town. It doesn’t have to be a regular town—design an imaginary town on Mars or underground!
- Use Altoid boxes to build tiny worlds—a tiny room or a six-course meal in a box.
- Build an amazing environment for a small plastic animal. What would your small plastic jaguar need to live? You can extend this project by having your child do some research and learn more about jaguars.
Materials for Building
This might take a little bit of time to pull together, but once you get set up and organized, your child won’t be asking you for materials every time they want to do a project. It will all be there!
- Scraps and Recyclable Items: Wood scraps, cardboard, egg cartons, string, any container, fabric scraps (cut from clothes that you plan to discard or donate), yarn, wrapping paper, any paper, paper plates and cups, corks—whatever you have on hand!
- Adhesives: Tape (clear, masking and duct), glue, a stapler, low heat glue gun. (Children in 1st grade and older can be trained to use glue guns. Loriann tells her students to always watch the space where the nib meets the object.)
- Treasures: Googly eyes, feathers, sequins, cellophane, beads
- Other helpful items: Markers, scissors, Altoid boxes, Sculpey/modeling clay
A Few More Resources and Ideas
Lowell’s Middle School art teacher, Paul Goldblatt, is a parent and knows what it is like to juggle work at home and the kids’ remote learning. He offers these additional resources that his boys have given a thumbs up!
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems (New drawing activities daily, total length 20–30min.)
- Daily Drawing Lessons with Wendy MacNaughton (Instagram)
- Dav Pilkey at Home (Activities from Dav Pilkey and Scholastic; new lessons released on Fridays.)
- Daily Read-Alouds via Instagram (There are several great ones, but check out Oliver Jeffers and Mac Barnett.)
- The Artful Parent (A good web resource with a variety of projects for kids of different ages.)
Nurturing Your Young Artist
One of the keys to extending children’s creativity is guiding children to open-ended—rather than ready-made—projects and helping them discover the things that inspire them. For tips on how to respond when your child says “I don’t know what to make,” or what to say when your children shows you their artwork, see Loriann’s post, “Encouraging Young Children’s Creativity.”