Help your child get creative with imaginative art activities.

Creative Arts & Crafts for Preschoolers

by Erica Loop

Spike your preschooler's creative interests with imaginative arts and crafts activities. Between the ages of 3 and 5, children are building essential fine motor, emotional and critical thinking skills. While it might seem that the best way to foster these burgeoning abilities is a daily worksheet or a lesson at "school," adding in arts and crafts projects to your little one's daily routine is a creative way to jump-start learning.

The Benefits

While creative arts and crafts projects for your preschooler often result in a cute pic to tack onto your fridge, the benefits of these activities go way beyond earning the bragging rights to show off your child's drawing skills. The many benefits of an early start in the visual arts for a young child include developing imagination, building problem-solving abilities (think about how your little one figures out how to put together a few random shapes into a full-fledged picture), refining motor skills such as dexterity, and setting and completing goals. If you are looking for a few scholastic benefits that the fine arts enhance, feel comfortable in the fact that your preschooler can learn about basic math concepts such as geometry (shapes) and patterns as well as scientific ideas (colors and transformations).

The Materials

Not all arts and crafts materials are equal, and not all of them are meant for your 3-year-old. before buying stock in your local craft supply store, take a look around your house. You probably have more art supplies laying around then you think. Take, for example, a simple cardboard box. Cut it apart and you have thick paper for coloring, a base for a sculpture or a background for a collage. Other at-home items to use (or rather, reuse) include milk cartons, soda bottles, fabric or holiday gift wrap scraps. If you don't have enough to use at home, only buy arts and crafts materials that are non-toxic and specifically say on the label that they are safe for your child's age. Look for the Art and Crafts Materials Institute logo for certified safe products.

Basic Creative Art

If you are looking to start simple, get your little one's creativity flowing with a basic process-based project. Choose one specific process such as painting, drawing, sculpting or collage. Instead of dictating that your preschooler create a particular project, let her go wild (maybe not entirely wild, but at least exploitatively creative) with the process. For example, provide a palette with a rainbow of different tempera paint colors and a few different brushes. Encourage your mini-Monet to play with the colors, mixing them together to make new shades and hues, as well as the texture of the paint. Don't worry if she doesn't make a dog, cat or portrait of her adoring mother. The very act of painting is enough of an activity for a preschooler to increase creativity and imagination.

Themed Arts and Crafts

While exploring process-based art is a creative way for your preschooler to learn, sometimes you may need an actual product-type project. Whether it's Christmas and you want your little one to make a special ornament for grandma or you'd like her to create her own Father's Day card, there's no shame in asking your child to make "something" some of the times. If you want to get the most creativity out of your child, avoid using ready-made kits, and instead have her create everything from scratch. For example, instead of using a pre-packaged frame kit in which your child simply presses stickers onto a piece of foam, have her make her own frame from cardboard and paint it herself.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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