I often get comments and emails from peope asking how they can do art activities work for their kids when they are not ‘arty’, are already super busy, and just can’t see how to manage all these ‘fancy activities’.
The thing is, I am busy too…
I don’t have the time or the money to run around buying fancy craft supplies, I don’t have any desire to clean up lots of extra mess, and I certainly don’t have the skill to make a rocket out of three toilet rolls and some scrunched up paper in less than a minute!
I am not Mister Maker!
But I know a secret…
Doing art with your kids doesn’t have to be difficult, or time consuming, or messy, if you stick to easy art activities.
Occasionally we do something new and exciting and ‘fancy’, but mostly the art activities we do are simple and easy.
They are the kind of activities that I can throw on the table in a few minutes, using items we have around the house.
They are the kind of activities that any or all of my kids would enjoy doing regardless of how old they are.
And they are the kind of activities that don’t require heaps of supervision (now that my kids are older), or much clean up.
Art doesn’t need to be fancy, or difficult, or new to be worthwhile. If you keep it simple, collect some basic art supplies, and set up low mess, easy, but fun art activities, you’ll find it much more doable and you might even join in!
Here are four easy art activities we did last week…
Cotton Bud Painting
- cotton buds/cotton swabs/q-tips/whatever you call them
- paint or food colouring
- a container for the paint – an egg carton works well.
This is a simple activity that doesn’t require much paint or large pieces of paper as the cotton buds naturally encourage smaller, finer lines. It’s great for all ages and if you have more than one child it’s easy to set up their own individual paint tray and cotton buds so there is no drama about sharing. It’s low mess as there are only small amounts of paint and easy clean up as there are not even any brushes to wash and if you use an egg carton just toss it in the recycling when you are done.
Drawing And Water Colours
- water colour paints – we like these fluro ones from Micador
- a brush for each child
- a container of water for each child
- crayons or pastels
Water colours are my go to, easy art activity when my kids ask to paint. They are cheap to buy, easy to set up and low mess. Combine them with some crayons or pastels to add a new element to the kids creating. I suggest using an old china mug as your water container as it’s more sturdy and less likely to tip over.
- paper or cardboard
- whatever collage item you can find
- markers/pencils – optional extra!
My four year old loves a bit of ‘sticking and gluing’ and it’s a simple activity that he can do without much supervision. We often use glue sticks as they are easy for small hands to manage and low mess, and I just collect a container of whatever I can find hanging around for him to stick. In this case it was some streamers left over from a birthday party. You could also use cut up junk mail, old paintings, foil, wrapping paper, wool, material etc.
If you are using a glue stick you need to offer items that are light enough to stick well with just the glue stick, leave the bigger, heavier items like bottle caps and icy-pole sticks for when you are prepared to get out the PVA glue. Because the streamers are long and thin I thought it might be fun to add some markers to draw on them after we’d stuck them… just an optional extra to make the activity a little different and interesting.
Drawing With Lego
- a BIG sheet of paper, or several small ones taped together
- markers, pencils or crayons
- Lego or another construction set, or other small toys
All four of my kids adore Lego, so adding a little extra creativity to a Lego session is always a hit, and this is so easy to set up. Just pop down the paper (we love the rolls of paper from Ikea), dump on some markers and get out the Legos!
This works just as well with other small toys like animals, cars, or dolls house dolls and furnture.
All of these activities only took a minute or two to set up, they engaged my kids for a decent chunk of time (the Lego activity lasted for hours!) and they didn’t take long to clean up. They were four easy art activities that anyone can do if you feel the need for a little more art in your days.
What’s your favourite, easy, art activity?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Kate Lloyd says
Great collection of simple ideas in this post Kate. Our favourite and simple art activity would be using water paints. Always a hit with us.
Bek @Just For Daisy says
Love all of these Kate! I’m getting back to ‘simple’ with baby #3 in the house so thanks for sharing a few more ideas! :)
martha moger says
It’s so true! You definitely don’t have to be a genius art whizz to get kids creating. (Maybe good at cleaning up though?!) Great suggestions.
One of my secrets is that we do lots of our ‘art’ outside on our old patio. Then any spills or mess are easy to clean up with a quick hose down or just a bucket of soapy water and a cloth.
Another ‘not too messy but creative’ activity that my kids love is to build using cardboard boxes and bits of recycling. They love making incredible sculptures/machines and enjoy trying different types of sticky tape, masking tape, duct tape, washi tape, or gluing and stapling various bits of cardboard, paper and alfoil together. Heaps of fun!