Art supplies kept on hand encourage your preschooler's creative side.

Getting Preschoolers Interested in Arts and Crafts

by Shelley Frost

If your preschooler is like most, she's into everything and rarely sits still. No matter what her favorite activities are, you may find yourself wanting to expand her interests. Sure, arts and crafts projects get a little messy, especially when you use everyone's favorite -- glitter. But those messy masterpieces give your little one more fine motor control and a boost in creativity.

1. Supply Art Materials

He can't get creative if he doesn't have the materials on hand, so head to the craft store and stock up on child-friendly materials. A basic art cupboard includes materials like non-toxic paint, paintbrushes, scissors, paper, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue, felt, chenille stems, craft sticks and googly eyes. If the budget doesn't allow you to fill the cart with supplies, start with a few and build on your stockpile gradually. A designated art area for your kiddo gives him easy access so he can explore art when the urge strikes. Keep a few art supplies, like crayons and paper, out in the art area so he can create whenever he feels like it. Messier supplies, like glitter and paint, are better kept where only you can reach -- unless you want to discover a custom design ground into your carpet.

2. Keep It Child-Directed

You'll find tons of craft projects online and in magazines that detail each step. While these projects turn out some pretty cute pieces of art, they don't let the kids stretch their creative muscles. In a child-directed art project, your preschooler takes the reins. Instead of handing her pre-cut pieces of paper and glue to make a paper jack-o-lantern, you might give her a stack of construction paper, scissors and glue. The child-centered approach gives your preschooler a sense of pride, allows her to take risks and gives her a chance to explore her own talents.

3. Do Art Together

Even if you can only draw stick people, letting your preschooler see you have fun with art may encourage him to pick up a paintbrush. Little kids often want to do what Mom does. Plus, doing art together makes for some pretty awesome memories and bonding moments with your preschooler. Watch what you say about your own art skills. Avoid saying things like, "I can't draw," or "This painting looks horrible." These phrases seem innocent enough, but your own insecurities can rub off on your preschooler and cause him to hold back. Embrace your inner artist -- even if your rocket ship looks more like a Christmas tree -- to teach him there's no right or wrong when it comes to art.

4. Point Out Art

Your preschooler doesn't have to get her hands messy to appreciate art. Point out examples of art in everyday life to pique her interest in the art world. Stop and stare at that graffiti on a downtown building -- as long as the artwork is child-friendly. Examine a sculpture you pass every day. Buy tickets to a local art museum and let her be the tour guide. Don't worry if she rushes past the Baroque paintings in favor of colorful sculptures. The point is to immerse her in art and let her find what interests her. Even things like the pattern of frost on the window or the way the leaves scatter on the ground are a thing of beauty to point out to your budding artist.

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