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Long before cell phones, iPads, computers, and other electronic devices riddled with apps, kids stayed occupied with nature and the arts. We ran wild outside until the streetlights blinked on or Dad emitted his loud, forceful whistle to book it home. We drew hopscotch squares and scrawled messages and works of art on the driveways and sidewalks.
Kids nowadays, however, are less interested in the arts or the outdoors. Kids aren’t riding their bikes as much, putting on puppet shows or painting family portraits, nor searching for salamanders in the creek nearby. And the negative effects of these choices are showing.
Children are now lacking the psychomotor skills to engage in active play.
Now they rely on technology for most of their play time, significantly limiting challenges to their creativity and imaginations, along with limiting necessary challenges to their bodies to achieve optimal sensory and motor development.
Even sedentary babies and toddlers bombarded with disordered sensory stimulation are experiencing delays in attaining developmental milestones, with a huge impact on elementary foundation skills for achieving literacy. These effects caused the land of chateaus, croissants, fashion, and wine to ban all “Baby TV” in their country.
While iPads and the TV can be convenient electronic babysitters while we sweep the kitchen floor or fold the endless batches of laundry, we need to make a better effort of fostering creativity in our child’s activities.
“Research indicates that a child who is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property—key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twenty-first century.”
– International Child Art Foundation
Art offers many benefits for children. Art builds confidence and promotes accountability, patience, and determination.
Creative activities also help children to develop attention skills and cognitive learning. Their imagination is running wild and it encourages them to come up with new ideas and to think in a unique way since creativity involves exploration and problem-solving.
Here is a list of creative activities to develop your child’s artistic learning and encourage her to think in a more challenging and creative way.
1. Playing dress-up is fun!
Save some of those old clothes and accessories you no longer need: hats, glasses, scarves, necklaces, purses, shoes, and other items lurking in the Salvation Army bag in your trunk. Don’t forget to save those old Halloween costumes for dress-up shenanigans too!
2. Create a kiddy “art studio” in your home.
Fill the studio with a selection of tools and materials: markers, finger paints, clay, crayons, scissors, watercolors, paint brushes, glues, papers of various sizes and textures, random tchotchkes around the house (like buttons or old picture frames), and boxes and containers in a variety of sizes. The kitchen table is a perfect “studio.”
3. Be dramatic when you read to your child.
Act out stories with props, costumes, and enthusiasm! Encourage your child to create their own stories and perform them for you. You never know who Ellen’s next big sensation will be!
4. Listen to different types of music at home and in the car.
Tune in to different radio stations and check out a variety of musical genres on CD from the public library for free! Listening to different genres of music exposes your children’s ears to a wide range of sound and culture.
Related: 10 Common Household Items Your Toddler Wants for Playtime
5. Dance together!
Teach your children traditional dances you know (no, not the Humpty Dance) or improvise with them. Dancing is fun and great exercise! Some of my best childhood memories are dancing in the living room with my mom and siblings to the Beach Boys.
6. Sing together!
Teach the children your favorite sing-along songs. Try a song like, “Apples and Bananas” or “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” One of my favorite morning routines is to sit with Violet at the kitchen table and watch and sing along to nursery rhymes from the Little Baby Bum channel on YouTube.
7. Locate some kiddy comic books for inspiration at your local library then create an original comic strip with unique characters and pictures.
Create a storyboard and have your child fill in each box by drawing a scene and a speech cloud. Come up with a name for the comic strip and each of the characters.
8. Create a memorial scrapbook together.
Put photos, magazine cutouts, drawings, mementos, and captions together creatively. My Great Grandma created a scrapbook filled with images of dolls, cats, stuffed animals, and other kid-friendly photos cut out from a variety of magazines and old greeting cards, then gave it to me as a gift when I was a little girl. I absolutely loved my scrapbook and always thought it would be such a fun activity for children to do themselves.
9. Check out local arts programs after school, on weekends, and during school breaks.
Many recreation departments like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and libraries offer these. Change up the typical summer sports camp and send your child to a fun art camp where your child can explore the artistic worlds of creative writing, dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.
Related: 7 Fun Ways to Get Kids Involved in House Cleaning
10. Take your child to an art museum or art gallery.
Discuss the trip before you go and build up their interest. Many museums have scavenger hunt-type handouts for kids at the front desk. Grab one and try it out! Ask your child questions about the artwork around them. In addition to university museums, there are lots of cool places to introduce your child to art in your community that are free!
These are such great ways to introduce kids to the arts! I definitely want to do number 8 soon!
Thanks! You will absolutely love doing the scrapbook. I even made one for fitness motivation. Let’s just hope someone doesn’t stumble on it and be like WTF? 😂
I wish kids these days were more interested in the arts and not so attached to screens. I know I was outside a ton when I was growing up – and enjoying artsy things like reading all.the.time. LOL I love your ideas. I try and bring my nieces and nephew to the library a lot so they can play and do activities there. They love it.
That’s great that you bring your nieces and nephews to the library! Some people don’t realize how many awesome services and activities libraries offer! You’re definitely building some wonderful memories with your family. Such a good auntie!!
Thank you for sharing these, I have been practicing #3 for bedtime stories and my 21months old loves it😂 I will definitely try more of these.
Awww, that’s wonderful! Isn’t so cute so see your little one get excited when you read animatedly! ♥️
I don’t have any children, but I do have a niece and nephew. So thankful that our parents raised us music, dance, and art. I can attest that it has personally helped me in all other aspects of my life. So sad that they are taking these classes out of school. Thank you for providing activities where we can incorporate raising children in the arts at home.
That is awesome! The arts are so important for children and young adults. The arts truly make us more well-rounded and more intelligent overall. It makes me so sad when schools and families think of art as just an elective, or fluff. 😩
I absolutely love your suggestions and your reasoning behind them! We always buy 2 season tickets to the theater and the symphony and my husband and I take turns taking our kiddos on dates. But it’s critical to have them drawing and coloring and simple things on a daily basis, too! That’s part of why we homeschool.
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Wow! The symphony?! What an amazing treat and unforgettable memories your children will have! Well done, Mom! You’re setting a perfect example for your little ones. ♥️
These are excellent ways to introduce kids to arts. I like to read with crazy voices to my baby girl. I also like singing with her. She loves to dance. She is super smart, and I want to expose her to all sorts of things.
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Engaging in the arts with children is tons of fun, plus your daughter is gaining something beneficial it! Who knew being silly, creative, and fun would help make children smarter?! Your daughter is lucky to have such an involved parent. ♥️
This is something that is so important to me as a teacher and a mom-to-be! I remember doing almost all of these things when I was a kid, and do not want my children and students to miss out on these fun times because they’re too distracted by technology! Balance is key!
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You’re very right! Balance is key! There are lots of wonderful learning apps on iPads, but nothing beats good old fashion crayons and dress-up time. Congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy!! ♥️
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