Do you find that your little ones always seem to want to do something creative? But, taking part in performing and visual arts is not just creative, it can actually help your children learn. According to the Childcare Education Institute, encouraging your children in the arts could help improve their cognitive development and critical thinking skills. Help your little ones develop creatively by giving them a few performing and visual arts activities that are just right for toddlers and preschoolers.
1. Drawing and Painting Activities
Children of any age can start to express themselves through art, but toddlers and preschoolers especially love to get their hands into arts and crafts projects. Instead of just dumping out a bunch of art supplies onto a table and letting them dive right in, plan out a few basic lessons so that your kiddos can begin to learn a few basic drawing and painting skills. Show them how to make a color wheel on canvas board by painting each color in sequence into a circle or rainbow on the board as your children watch. Allow them to try to duplicate the color wheel themselves, and don't worry if it isn't perfect; the lesson is in the observation. You can also teach your little ones how to draw basic shapes on paper using different drawing materials, like colored pencils, wax crayons and washable markers. When they understand how to draw basic shapes, like circles, triangles and squares, it will help them to draw more complex shapes and pictures later.
2. Puppet and Doll Play
You might imagine your little ones taking part in a theatrical production one day, but toddlers and preschoolers should start out with a performing arts activity that is more their speed. Think about using different puppets and dolls to act out different scenes. You can make up puppet plays to show your children, giving them each a puppet and a role to play, or you can try acting out a scene from one of your children's favorite books. Take part in the puppet or doll play yourself so that you can show your children how to use different voices, emotions and gestures to portray the character more fully.
3. Dance Activities
Dance is an ideal way for little children to express themselves in a physical way, and can help your kids learn how to move their bodies theatrically and artistically. You might see your children grooving and jiving to whatever music you have on at the time, but think about putting together an activity with focused dancing to different forms of music. Put on classical music and dance using ballet movements; put on jazz music and dance using modern dance movements with silk scarves; put on lively music and practice your hip hop skills; or put on Celtic folk music and do a little Irish step dancing with your kiddos. Don't let any fears you might have come through or your children may imitate them. Instead, let your inhibitions go and set a great dancing example for your little ones.
4. Sculpting Activities
When children sculpt things out of clay or salt dough, it is almost as if the spirit itself is transforming the clay into a work of art. Take a few minutes to show your children how to knead and roll the clay or dough into different basic forms, like coils, spheres and oblongs. Turn them loose to create a form straight out of their souls. Since sculpting is a more free-form style of visual art, try to avoid critiquing or directing any of your children's sculpting projects. Instead, provide helpful comments, like "Wow, your sculpture is really coming together" or "What a beautiful work of art!" These comments are encouraging, yet vague enough to keep you out of trouble. You don't want to tell your little one that her doggie sculpture looks great, only to have her run off crying because her sculpture was really of a bird.