In this blog we dis­cuss how to pro­vide cre­ative art activ­i­ties for chil­dren that ben­e­fit their learn­ing and devel­op­ment and the impor­tance of hav­ing a des­ig­nat­ed art center. 

Product-Focused or Process-Focused?

Art activ­i­ties can be prod­uct-focused or process-focused.

When you think of art activ­i­ties for young chil­dren, do you think of col­or­ing books with print­ed images? Or projects where chil­dren attempt to copy a sam­ple cre­at­ed by an adult? Often in these sit­u­a­tions, an adult instructs chil­dren in cre­at­ing a desired out­come or prod­uctThese types of activ­i­ties are prod­uct-focused. They do not encour­age children’s cre­ativ­i­ty or exploration. 

On the oth­er hand, process-focused activ­i­ties are those that do encour­age chil­dren’s cre­ativ­i­ty. Process-focused activ­i­ties are unstruc­tured. There is no pre­de­ter­mined way to engage with the mate­ri­als, and chil­dren can experiment. 

Process-focused art activ­i­ties encour­age children’s cre­ativ­i­ty instead of putting pres­sure on them to fol­low spe­cif­ic steps and instruc­tions. Each child’s final prod­uct is unique. An art activ­i­ty is cre­ative when it allows chil­dren to make choic­es for them­selves and con­trol the process as much as possible.

Cre­ative art activ­i­ties are a won­der­ful way for chil­dren to chan­nel their nat­ur­al curios­i­ty and moti­va­tion to explore their world and dis­cov­er how things work. Freely manip­u­lat­ing and exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent art mate­ri­als makes learn­ing fun and address­es mul­ti­ple areas of development.

Creative Art Activities for Children

Finger painting

Fin­ger paint­ing is a fun, open-end­ed activ­i­ty appro­pri­ate for chil­dren at any stage of devel­op­ment. All you need is space, time, a sub­stance to paint with, and a com­fort­able chair. 

Let chil­dren dis­cov­er for them­selves what they can do at their own pace. Avoid giv­ing advice. There is no right or wrong way to fin­ger paint. Chil­dren love to mix col­ors, make pat­terns, and have the free­dom to cre­ate what­ev­er they want. 

Every child is suc­cess­ful when they fin­ger paint!

Three-dimensional projects

Three-dimen­sion­al projects are a great way for chil­dren to prac­tice fine motor skills while hav­ing fun. Pro­vide box­es in a vari­ety of sizes and shapes. Chil­dren often enjoy stack­ing them up to cre­ate stat­ues. When they decide on a shape, they can tape the box­es togeth­er. Pro­vide sup­port at this stage as needed. 

The chil­dren can use their imag­i­na­tion to dec­o­rate their stat­ues with mark­ers, paint, glue, felt, paper scraps, pipe clean­ers, etc. Chil­dren may enjoy incor­po­rat­ing the stat­ues into their pre­tend play. As a small-group activ­i­ty, this can help chil­dren learn about coop­er­a­tion and work­ing as a team. 

Mixed-media collage

Open-end­ed col­lage projects pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren to expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent tex­tures and sen­sa­tions. As far as mate­ri­als for col­lage activ­i­ties, the options are limitless! 

Allow chil­dren over three to cut or tear mate­ri­als into small pieces. This presents an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty for devel­op­ing fine motor skills. (Keep small pieces away from infants and tod­dlers since these can present chok­ing hazards.) 

The chil­dren can lay­er mate­ri­als and col­ors, or paint on top of their col­lages to cre­ate a vari­ety of tex­tures and visu­al effects.

Have fun exper­i­ment­ing with the chil­dren in your care!

More Creative Activities for Young Children

Inter­est­ed in more activ­i­ties for chil­dren? Read our blogs on Music and Move­ment Activ­i­ties and Indoor Activ­i­ties for Kids.

The Early Childhood Environment: Learning Centers

Care Cours­es’ 10-clock-hour course, The Ear­ly Child­hood Envi­ron­ment: Learn­ing Cen­ters, offers many cre­ative art activ­i­ty ideas, and sug­ges­tions for tai­lor­ing your art cen­ter to suit children’s needs and inter­ests. Take this course to learn about fun and func­tion­al learn­ing cen­ters ded­i­cat­ed to lit­er­a­cy, music, block play, pre­tend play, and more! 

Care Courses Support 

Please con­tact us and let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings, and week­ends: We’re here to help!

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