Getting Creative

I love watching my daughter create. Ever since she was a little girl, she had always loved dabbling with paint and drawing with crayons. She does not have a fear of making mistakes, and if she does, she has the ability to turn that "mistake" into something else. I remember watching her as a two year old, relishing in the joy of playing with collage pieces. She would put them on, and then take them all off again (typical toddler!). The goal was not the final product. The enjoyment was simply the process.

I remember when my love of creating died. It was in third grade, when we were doing some Japanese brush art for our unit on Japan. (I think we were painting bamboo.) I worked hard to try to copy my teacher's model (a no-no as I later learned). I also remember being crushed when she re-did what I had painted. That was it for me. I was turned off to art.

That was why when I became a mom, I resolved not to squelch my kids' creative experiments. (Besides, anything my kids did far outstripped my own efforts! Even at age six, Matthew could draw a better Yoda than I could.) I have since moved on from those early elementary school days and am slowly learning to express my creativity elsewhere. But I wonder what would have happened if I didn't label myself as uncreative? Would I have chosen a different path in college? I don't know.

That is why I want to work hard on giving my kids the opportunity to experiment and dabble in the arts. Unfortunately for many schools, these programs are being limited or cut out completely. For us as homeschoolers, we are no different. I have to work very hard to make sure that my kids have opportunities to create.

Creating is a uniquely human trait, one that mirrors the creativeness of our God. When we create, we are forced to tap into a different side of our brains. Sometimes it involves problem solving, especially when it doesn't turn out as we wish. As I give my kids the opportunity to mess around, just for fun, they are given opportunities to stretch their mental boundaries and explore outside the box. These are vital skills in the adult world that we live in. Giving them art opportunities helps them to develop those skills.

Below are some websites with ideas for kids to develop not only experience with various art materials, but basics in art theory and history. Pick a topic and explore with your kids. Create a mess. Let them experiment. And celebrate the joy of making something new with them.

Art Projects for All Ages

Hands On: As We Grow: A delightful website with very simple arts and crafts projects for preschoolers. I could spend hours mining this site!

Deep Space Sparkle: If you had to pick just one site to look at, I think this is it. Beautiful art projects for kids kindergarten through sixth grade throughout the site. This will keep your kids busy for hours! Most projects use very basic art materials.

The Artist's Toolkit: Gives kids some basics in art elements and principes, like line and color. Each element has a short demonstration that illustrates the principle with a real piece of art, followed by an opportunity for the kids to look for that element in different pieces of artwork. Then they have the opportunity to play around to make virtual art, which you can print out.

The Virtual Instructor: This is a great site for your older artists who may want some art lessons via video. Most of them are free, some of them require a membership. You may wish to preview the videos before letting your kids watch them, as some of them have ads. One of the links I looked at required you to scroll down to find the video. This is definitely more advanced, so I wouldn't use it on your beginning artists. It assumes some working knowledge of different art terms and techniques, but I'm including it for those of you with older kids who want a little more.

Art Appreciation


Getty Games: If you enjoy museums, the Getty Museum has a kids' site with four different games that sharpen your kids' skills in noticing detail. Using real artwork, your kids can play different games to hone their skills. I tried the Detail Detective game and it was challenging! If you'd like to introduce your kids to the museum, this can be a way to break them in.

SmART Kids: This site, hosted by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, is a fun site to explore. Click on the kids to access different activities. If you want to really introduce your kids to art appreciation, click on "Artwork of the Month," where they feature one piece of art, and give questions to guide their "looking" as well as an activity to do that is related to the piece.