Hi! My name is Kristen Nelson and I very excited to be with you here at Education Possible. My blog, Art History Mom, is a place where parents and kids-—or teachers and students—come together to view and discuss great works of art. I feature art history lessons and related art projects for children.
Art is so important. It’s much more than viewing or creating nice pictures. This diagram says it all:
Today I’ll be sharing 5 easy ways to ignite kids’ creativity and get the creative juices flowing. You can incorporate these ideas into a lesson plan or use them when the kids are bored on a rainy afternoon. I call these “pantry projects” since little preparation is needed and most of the supplies involved are already in your home. I hope your little ones will enjoy these imaginative activities as much as mine do.
1. Q-Tip Art
One Saturday afternoon my 3-year-old was cleaning Barbie’s ear and accidentally spilled cotton swabs all over the floor. On her own initiative, my 6-year-old picked them up and made this architectural floor drawing. I was amazed.
My young son wanted to get in on the fun so we collaborated on this Q-bot and added found objects.
Now I keep a small stash of cotton swabs from the Dollar Store in my art supply cabinet. Every once in awhile I’ll “accidentally” spill them on the floor. Try it with your kids and see what happens!
2. Painting and Classical Music
I got this idea from my friend Devin. Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is one of the world’s most famous pieces of classical music. Don’t you just love listening to it? I recently played the masterpiece for my two daughters and had them paint what they “saw” in the music. I turned the volume up and sat them in front of a piece of watercolor paper, paint brush in hand. They closed their eyes in an attempt to enter the music and visualize it in their mind’s eye.
I asked the following questions:
- What colors and shapes do you see? Are the shapes moving with the music?
- Do you see people? If so, where are they and what are they doing?
Kolbe imagined ballet dancers in a forest. Sophie’s vision was more abstract. Both girls truly enjoyed the exercise.
3. Build a Greek Temple with Blocks
Blocks have been an important part of our children’s playtime for years. My kids enjoy creating block structures from their imaginations, but sometimes I’ll assign them the task of building something specific. I recently shared this Meet the Greeks blog post with my son and he’s been very keen on building Greek Temples ever since. Visit this Pinterest page with your children and observe the different Greek temples. Then have your little one create their own. Why not incorporate this activity into a lesson on Greek mythology?
If you don’t have blocks, Christmas is coming! I recommend shopping at the family-run Wooden Blocks for Kids.
4. Creative Writing and Art History
My husband and I share a weakness for beautiful, large art books. Oftentimes we’ll take the heavy books off the shelves and look through them with our children. We have found them to be a wonderful way to introduce our kids to great works of art.
Art and creative writing go together beautifully. Here’s something to try: select a painting from a book that you think would be conducive to good story-making. Show it to your child and ask brainstorming questions such as:
- Where does this painting take place?
- Who are the people/animals involved? What are their names and what are they talking about?
- Where have they been and where are they going?”
Each child could write their own story, or they could collaborate. Of course the child can dictate the story to you if they aren’t yet writing.
5. Play Art History I Spy
A large part of cultivating an appreciation for art is simply exposing kids to masterpieces. Playing art history “I Spy” is very fun and engaging for children. Simply print out the list of questions below and visit this Art History I Spy Pinterest board. Once you’re viewing the art with your child, ask the questions, being sure to pause for their responses. Have a conversation about art!
- Find the two vases of sunflowers. How are they alike and how are they different?
- Can you point to the young woman holding a unicorn? What do you think she’s looking at?
- Looking at all of the paintings, how many birds can you count? How about cats and dogs?
- Find an image that represents the season of Fall. What would you do if you were inside the painting?
- Find the painting of a beautiful red flower. How do you feel when you look at it?
- Point to the painting featuring the two baby angels. What’s happening in this painting?
- Can you find the hat with a white plume?