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Art for Kids to Learn a Skill

Erica Loop
April 15, 2015

Create and educate with these skill-building arts and crafts activities.

Sure, art for kids gets the creativity flowing. But, did you know it can also teach your child a skill or two? Amy Miller, an educator and creator of the site Learning By Design says, "Whatever the activity or the age of the child, the most important thing is to keep the focus on the process and not the final product. Art at any age will promote development when children are free to explore with materials and express themselves." How can you help your child learn a skill through art?

Before you break out the crayons and paints, check out these imaginatively artsy educational activities:
 

Toddlers
 

  • Cereal box beads. The cereal box DIY beads on Sparkling Buds offer the opportunity for your toddler to build eye-hand coordination and dexterity, without the danger of choking on teeny tiny store-bought beads.
     
  • Bubble prints. Karen Schravemade, a creative arts educator and creator of the blog A House Full of Sunshine, says, "Creating art with kids is fun, and it's also beneficial for their development. Art activities help develop the right side of the brain." Her bubble wrap prints get your toddler into sensory play while building knowledge of colors and textures. This open-ended art experience allows your pint-sized Picasso to explore his artistic side without the boundaries of "making something."

    Schravemade notes, "A simple printmaking activity like this is great for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It involves problem-solving (how much paint should I use to get the clearest pattern? What sort of pressure should I apply?), experimentation (what happens when I mix colors? What about when I overlap patterns?) and analysis of how their ideas worked -- all important components of creative thinking."
     
  • Rain cloud collage. Do you want your tot to learn a lesson on the weather? My Bored Toddler's rain cloud collage uses simple materials such as cotton balls to help your child explore seasonal ideas while getting crafty and creative.
     

Preschoolers
 

  • Rainbow geometry painting. Math learning gets creatively crafty with this paint printing shape activity from Left Brain Craft Brain. Your kids also get a lesson in color mixing.
     
  • DIY chalk paint. Art for kids as a science experiment? Mom and elementary art teacher MaryLea Harris of Pink and Green Mama says, "Once the weather warms up, one of our favorite places to make art is outdoors, in our own backyard and driveway." She suggests making sidewalk chalk from corn starch. Your child can discover how the solid corn starch powder mixes up to form this outdoor paint and then work on her fine motor skills as she controls a paintbrush.
     
  • Ocean art. Artsy Momma's puffy paint ocean is a sensory exploration that also adds in a pinch of science and math with a quick counting activity by mixing in a school of fish.
     
  • Sunflower height pictures. This art activity from Crafty Kids at Home helps your child learn about math (measurements), explore nature and practice fine motor skills all while making a life-size multi-media sunflower.
     

Older Kids
 

  • Owl sculptures. Letter-learning, animal science and eco-educational all in one? Your child can reuse cardboard tubes in the O is for Owl craft by Ducks 'n a Row.
     
  • Clay reminder bracelet. Does your child sometimes forget when it's not his turn to talk? If listening and turn-taking are issues, Green Owl Art's clay reminder bracelets are creative ways to solve this problem while building social skills.
     
  • Symmetrical stickers picture. This skills-based art activity from You Clever Monkey requires only a few materials, but packs a punch when it comes to learning math concepts in a totally hands-on way!
     

Miller says, "The key to fun, engaging art activities is preventing frustration (for children and parents) by providing opportunities that are aligned with the current developmental stage."

Now that your little learner is exploring everything from sculpture to symmetry, keep the educational excitement going with 7 Games That Are Fun for the Brain.

Erica Loop is a mom, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. When she's not teaching, she's creating kids' actviities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.

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