Creativity is a skill that helps us imagine. When your kids have the opportunity to practice this skill, they are building a creative toolbox that they can reach into, whenever they need it, that will help them envision solutions to problems, build new worlds both visual and linguistic, and simply create for the joy of doing so.
Creativity is also one of the National Education Association’s “Four Cs” for 21st century teaching—the four most important skills for K-12 education in a global society. Creativity, along with the other Cs—critical thinking, communication, and collaboration—make up the four essential skills that can help a learner unlock understanding of any content area, problem, or decision they encounter. Luckily, a blank canvas and the space to create, plus a little encouragement from you, can help your child practice this skill at any age.
If you’re creating alongside your child, that’s great—and if your process or art is messy or imperfect, that's great too! Modeling that it’s okay to struggle with creative expression will help ease any anxiety your child has around creativity and, ultimately, help your kid love to create.
According to the Critical Evidence report on how the arts benefits student achievement, one of the greatest values of kids working creatively with others, like in a classroom or group setting, is that kids are able to learn how to “understand that creativity and innovation are part of a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes.” This helps kids learn not to fear failure—an invaluable outlook for creativity and bravery throughout life.
Outschool offers live online classes that allow learners of all ages to be creative in a fun, nurturing environment. Explore Outschool’s art classes here.
Thirty activities for kids to help foster creativity
If you have an artist-in-training that is already comfortable with the creative process, try our project ideas that are more open-ended (like art journaling) or that deep dive into a specific technique or material (like watercolor). If you have a beginner in kid crafts, start with an art activity that has a defined finished product (like paper plate bird nests) but with lots of wiggle room for creative expression (like no rules for color/material/approach).
Art and craft activities for ages 3–6
- Make a bird nest and binoculars out of common household items like paper plates and paper towel rolls.
- Use music as a prompt—listen to music and have your kids create art based on the sounds they hear. No special supplies needed, just use what you have at home.
- Use paper plates, markers and googly eyes to make lion faces with pom pom manes.
- Read a favorite book about bugs and make a paper chain caterpillar, paper plate ladybug, paper plate turtle, or edible marshmallow cricket.
- Gather tissue paper, yarn, paints and brushes, glue, scissors, and toilet paper rolls to make a windsock. Test outdoors or on the back of a bicycle.
- The uses are endless—save those toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Use construction paper, glue, googly eyes and any other craft supplies to join the “Toilet Tissue and Paper Towel Roll Craft Club.”
- Focus on shapes—cut basic shapes in a single color of construction paper and build a scene from only your shapes. We especially like purple.
- Head to the garden, yard, or park for inspiration. Craft the bugs and plants you see using paper, tissue paper, paper plates, straws, pipe cleaners, paint and crayons, plus any natural materials that you collect on your journey.
- Use egg cartons and pipe cleaners to make caterpillars and use toilet paper rolls, construction paper, and pipe cleaners to make bees and any other fun creatures that your child imagines.Make spin art by placing a paper plate cut to size in the bottom of a salad spinner. Drizzle in washable paint (like tempera) and spin. Try Splatter Paint Like Jackson Pollock when they’re ready for modern art class.
Art and craft activities for ages 7–12
- Make colorful shadow art by collaging a tissue paper background and cutting a “shadow” from black paper to layer on top.
- Craft 3D tissue paper flowers and practice fine motor skills through detailed cutting and assembling.
- Make your own pom poms from scratch and turn them into a school of googly-eyed fish. Or, leave it up to open play and have your child create any animal or character they imagine.
- Try a vintage textile project like embroidering jeans, sewing felt pocket necklaces, or weaving dream catchers.
- Do easy paper crafts like cutting letters and animal shapes without a pattern and making colorful daisy chains to decorate or count down to a celebration date.
- Build tiny furniture with twigs from your yard, plus sticks and glue.
- Have your child practice self care and creating by making a calm down jar they can use during stressful times.
- Make your own card with a special message for Father’s Day, or apply your new skills to a card for any occasion.
- Make friendship bracelets with simple knot-tying and learn the Spiral and Candy Stripe techniques.
- Gather paper, coloring materials, old newspaper, scissors, colored construction paper, and glue to create your own Pop Art, or comic book.
Art and craft activities for ages 13–18
- For an older kids art project, have an official photography shoot and try out different camera angles, lighting, and composition. Have your child compare all the photos when done and talk about what they like best and why.
- Learn about Picasso, Cubism, and collaging by making a mixed media self-portrait from newspapers, magazine, and construction paper while looking in a mirror.
- Research five pieces of unusual art and try to recreate one style each day.
- Practice self care and creating by making works of art with nail polish. Use a favorite artist as inspiration for the design.
- Unwind with a meditative art project—Zentangle patterns. Try a fantasy theme and make a piece of abstract art while practicing focus and calm.
- Make blackout poetry. Cut out old book, newspaper, or magazine pages full of text then cover select words with black paper to create a poem and art piece in one.
- Make mini works of paper art on blank greeting cards using paint chips, used postage stamps, rubber stamps, black pens, and any other upcycled materials.
- Paint a canvas. Practice sponging, stippling, and fading on paper and then apply to the canvas.
- Make artist trading cards to trade with friends on high-quality paper cut to about 3x5 inches. Try watercolor paints, sickers, washi tape, colored markers, and thin black pens.
- Start a creative spark art journal using whatever medium comes to mind. Try watercolors, layering, and doodling—really any materials your child likes. Challenge them to do this daily for at least a full week, then reflect on their work.
Outschool is a marketplace of live online classes for kids (ages 3-18). Learners can safely learn and connect with teachers over live video chat. From math and music to filmmaking, coding, writing, and baking, the small-group online format supports all learner types at any level. Classes start at $10.