Having more time at home with our children due to restrictions and cold winter days, you may be wondering how you can keep young, busy minds occupied and away from screens. We know many children love creating art and they feel a sense of pride when their work is celebrated and displayed around the house. Whilst mess may be created and cause some headaches for parents, there are many benefits for a child’s brain when they are creating, particularly when we are actively involved in this process.

Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Art provides great sensory experiences.
  • Art builds fine motor skills. Just think of all the skills that come naturally to us as adults, but younger children are still mastering such as cutting with scissors, gluing, painting with a paintbrush or using other tools to create marks.
  • Creating art helps to develop problem-solving skills and creative thinking.
  • Art is expressive and can help a child describe their own feelings.
  • Art provides connection. It is a safe space for kids to connect with the world around them.
  • Art helps build vocabulary and develop language skills. Asking children to share and explain their creative choices is a rich way to build conversational skills.

Lockdown restrictions have provided the opportunity for my family and I to slow down and create many projects together. Instead of throwing out old boxes, we have reused them to create new pieces of art including animals, boats and even a clocktower! We have a dedicated space at home where we display my son’s artwork. This helps him make connections with his own experiences including when he may have completed a special painting at kinder or drawn a picture relating to one of his adventures.

Here are some more ideas of what you could do to engage creatively with your children at home:

  • Use a straw and food dye (or inks) to create an ink blowing monster. Drop food dye into the middle of a piece of paper and blow the ink around the page. Then use a black marker pen to add in arms, legs, teeth, horns or even a tail.
  • Go outside and create some chalk drawings together. This always brightens up a walk around the neighbourhood! You could even make it into a hopscotch or creative walk!
  • Use a milk carton to create an animal of your choice. Paint it and then add some interesting features.
  • Make your own stencil designs. Draw the outline of an object, assist your child with cutting the shape out and then roll paint over the stencil to create your own print.
  • Go outside to collect natural items including leaves, sticks and bark and create your own collage.
  • Find unique items around the house to draw. Put these items in interesting locations where a shadow or a reflection may appear.
  • Find a simple recipe for making playdough. Even older children will enjoy the sensory aspect and will want to create shapes from the playdough.
  • Use real items at home to become a part of your drawings. For example, a piece of fruit could become the shape of a character’s head or body. A beanie or a hat could be used to begin a portrait. See artist Christoph Nieman’s work for further ideas. https://www.christophniemann.com/detail/sunday-sketches-2/ 
  • Create a diorama. Ideas could include a dinosaur world or a minibeast habitat.

Sometimes it is difficult to be creative when we don’t have the equipment or materials at home. For those of you looking for ideas of reasonably cheap items to purchase we enjoy using Magiclay, paint sticks, pastels, acrylic or poster paints, collage papers, felt, art tools including sponges, brushes and rollers. Then again sometimes the best creations are made from recyclable materials at home.

If your children are inspired to draw, paint, design, construct, model, colour, explore and experiment we would love to hear about it.

Simon Davidson - Head of Learning - The Arts (Primary)