Trying to keep young children who are stuck at home entertained is no mean feat. Especially during these stressful times, children are possibly being exposed to world news that may seem scary or confronting to them, as it certainly is for us.
Maintaining a sense of calm amidst the chaos will help to keep children at ease, and therefore make all of our lives a little less hectic.
Here are 14 art activities for young children and we hope to encourage families to use this time to reconnect, re-engage and enjoy the simple, funny, creative and (possibly) quiet moments they will hopefully generate!

Cool Colour Process Art – Frozen Themed

An art study in process and texture, I chose a cool colour theme to inspire imaginative play based on a love of Elsa. But, you could easily adapt this to suit something your child is into. For example, if they loved The Incredibles, you could choose warm reds, oranges and yellows instead.

Putting some boaundaries around the painting activity creates a sense of ‘challenge’ and increases the likelihood of your child being inspired for a longer period of time!

Painting is an important part of self expression and colour exploration, and if you’re home schooling at the moment can easily be linked with most of the curriculum.

Here are my top tips:

  • Any student acrylic paint is great.
  • Use an egg carton as a pallet
  • If you don’t have a canvas you could flatten a large cardboard box, or if you’d like mess free you can use a plastic underbed storage container or old baby bath! Get them to paint on the plastic, and then you can make prints onto paper of anything that looks special!
  • Add music. See what happens when you speed up or slow down the song!
  • Chat with your child about warm vs cool colours.
  • What season they represent.
  • What other things they can find around the home in these colours, this could lead to a scavenger hunt!
  • Sing a rainbow song!
  • Paint using household objects. I found old bankcards and business cards worked well, easy for little hands to hold too! You could also print with veggies, toy cars or cut up kitchen sponges!

This painting activity can go on for days. I encouraged my two year old to add new layers each time it dried, and the result was (in her words) “a masterpiece!”

OCEAN SOAP FOAM

Mix together some soap, water, cornstarch and blue food colouring in a blender until it’s nice and thick!
Pour into an oven tray and let your children play! I added some plastic fish and bath toys to make it look real!
TIP: Wear bathers and rinse off under the sprinkler afterwards!

CHEERIO THREADING

A snack and a game in one! I know my mum used to tell me not to play with food, but hey, times are tough!
Just place a blob of playdough on a table or highchair. Poke in a couple of pieces of spaghetti and a pile of cheerios or fruit loops on the side. Let your child thread them on!

QUIET BINS

Pre prepare some baskets, for when your child needs some quiet, self-directed play. Here are three ideas:

  • Dip each end of a bunch of pop sticks (or cut up cardboard) in three different paint colours (or if you don’t have paint you could colour in the ends) Then draw a variety of shapes in texta on paper. Let your child match the popsticks end to end as they follow the shape.
  • Cotton balls and tonka trucks. Earth moving roleplay at it’s finest!
  • Pipecleaners and Pasta. Fashion and twist the pipecleaners together to make a tree. Then pop these in the basket with pasta and let your child thread the pasta onto the tree branches.
    The ideas are endless for Quiet Bins.

BOPPING BAUBLES

Grab out those Christmas baubles!
Fill one bowl or deep tray with water and leave another empty. Young children will delight in using a ladle to scoop out the baubles back and forth!
Extension ideas:
Science – Floating and sinking
Maths – Count the baubles as they’re collected, simple addition and subtraction games.

POM POM RACE

Create a track on your floor using masking tape.
Using a small pom pom and a straw, see if your child can blow the pom pom along the track!

HANDPRINT RAINBOW PAINTING

So easy!
Paint your childs hand with different coloured horizontal stripes!
Press onto white paper in a rainbow shape!

GROSS MOTOR DICE GAME

If you can, make two cardboard or paper dice.
On one write a set of actions, such as point, jump, spin etc…
On the other write some body parts, such as leg, arm, hand, head!
Throw the dice and match the action to the part, such as spin arms!!!
If you don’t feel like making dice, just write a list and use a set from a boardgame or check out the Kmart Yoga Dice.

SCAVENGER HUNT

This one is so simple but will keep your child busy for a while!
Colour in a set of squares, in varying colours on a white sheet of paper.
Challenge your child to find an object around the house in each colour!

ICE PAINT

Prepare an ice cube tray with different colours of food dye mixed with water and stick a pop stick in each one as a handle.
When frozen, tip out and paint! So much fun! A little messy so this one is great to do in an empty bath if stuck inside!

VAN GOGH (TIN FOIL) ART

Painting on tin foil with cotton buds is a great activity, not too messy, and helps children work on those fine motor skills.
Keep paint selection to just one or two colours, I’d suggest a primary and a white.
The end result will be reminiscent of Starry Night if you use blue and white (with a hint of yellow!)

NO MESS SPLATTER PAINTING

How on earth could I include the words ‘no mess’ and ‘splatter painting’ in the same sentence?
Easy!
Curl a piece of white paper in a large round (jar like) plastic container with a lid.
Pour in a few blobs of colour and pop the lid on, as well as some music!
Let your child shake it and themselves, till they can shake no more!
Voila! Unravel to reveal a special abstract!

GERM PAINTING

Sounds ominous! But it might be a great way to start a conversation about the need for us all to wash our hands!
Simply pop down some white paper and dot some paint blobs around in different colours.
Let your child blow the paint through a straw in different directions!
When dry add some black texta dot eyes or even googly eyes if you have them!!!
This can lead to a lovely little organic conversation…!

CLAUDE MONET ‘JAPANESE FOOTBRIDGE’ FINGER PAINTING

I’ve definitely saved the best for last, as this is one of my go to activities when introducing young children to famous artists!

You will need:

  • White paper
  • Paint
  • TAPE (that will peel off paper)

Simply tape a bridge shape onto the paper, set up the paint on a paper plate pallet and let your child fill the page with fingerprint dots!
Before it dries, peel off the tape and you will be left with a very Monet inspired work of art!
HOT TIP: I would begin this activity by having a little search online of Monet’s art. There are many resources available for parents, especially if you add the words ‘teaching resources’ or ‘lesson plans’ into your keyword search!

Happy ‘arting’ everyone!