Arts and Crafts Instead of TV

If you are not particularly artistic or crafty yourself it may be difficult to make sure your child is getting enough opportunities for artistic expression. Artistic expression though can be a foundation for writing and for self expression so it is important that art and crafts be an important part of a child's life. It is fairly easy to incorporate art into the school routine though. Here are few tips:

Make it From Scratch – Instead of buying new play dough or finger paints make your own with your children as helpers. Recipes can be found online and children will get to practice their measuring (math) and cooking skills too. Homemade art supplies are also healthier and less toxic than what you can buy at stores. Not only will your kids have a blast playing with these items they will have just as much fun making them.

Make Art Fun – Instead of sitting your child down with a paintbrush and a small canvas why not set them up with a big canvas in an outdoor area, some quality tempera paints, some water balloons, and some darts. Inflate the balloons just a bit, add some paint, close them, and attach them too the canvas with tacks. Then your kids can throw darts at the balloons and create art with the paint splatter. No child can resist this incredibly fun project. Later they can sign it and hang it in their bedroom or playroom.

Other fun projects include painting rocks, using body paints to mimic the body painting found in many tribal cultures, and using sidewalk chalks and paint.

Use the library – Your local library will no doubt have many books on various arts and crafts projects for kids. Look for books with unplugged projects, seasonal crafts ideas, and paper crafting like origami. Read the books together and decided which projects you will work on.

Go Digital – Art doesn’t have to be all about paper, paints, and getting and your hands dirty anymore. Digital arts and paint programs are gaining in popularity. Kid Pix and Disney Magic Artist Deluxe are two popular programs. They allow children to use digital paper and many different artistic techniques to create beautiful works of art that can be saved and even printed for framing. This method saves you a bundle on supplies.

Make it Educational – Art can also be educational. Have your children roll play dough into small marble shaped balls of different colors and use them as counting and math manipulatives. The same pieces can be used to learn colors and to practice sorting.

Allow free Expression – Don’t get in the habit of correcting your child’s technique or telling them which colors to use. Let them create their own art. Author Susan Striker of Young at Art discourages using coloring books because most of the artwork has already been done. She has a wonderful line of anti-coloring books available for purchase that give kids an opportunity to create on their own terms without outside interference or guidance.

So now that you have some fresh ideas…get busy!

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