Are you maxed out of art projects ideas for your kids, and feeling overwhelmed with the need to keep things exciting? There are simple and inexpensive ways to think outside the box that will spark creativity and laughter at home.

By Sara Annapolen
October 21, 2020
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Credit: Eric Jeon

As adults, we can be judgmental of the art we create. We are wired to hold back, erase and correct our lines, aim for perfection. The beauty of childhood art is the exact opposite. Their definition of beauty is whatever they want it to be at that moment. As a professional artist and designer, who is always erasing lines and remixing colors, it took entrance into motherhood, to relearn that giving up some control can feel magical.

Being creative is healthy for our minds and our hearts. Creating art without boundaries and perfection is a great way to bond with your kids. It allows you to witness their freedom of expression and you will be encouraged to let loose too! When you give up some control (and get over the mess) you end up enjoying the journey, not just the finished project.

Here are five ways to think outside the box and create art at home.

Paint with Nature

If you can paint with brushes, you can paint with peonies. This will work with any flowers from the garden or the store—just use the stem like the handle and the petals like the brush. Pour your tempera paint onto paper plates; a different color on a different plate works best. Hold that flower and get to painting. This Melissa and Doug paper roll is best to paint on—you can cover your whole table to keep it clean.

Pro tip: You might also want to dress the kids in a smock, apron, or clothes you don't mind them getting dirty. Things can get messy when paint is involved.

Have Fun Painting with Feet

Roll out large white paper onto an outdoor patio, or onto your kitchen floor. Pour paint into trays and let the kids use their feet to paint. Think finger painting, but with their toes. Keep in mind, it can get slippery, which kids love, but you want to keep an eye out for any possible slips. Also, keep wet paper towels on hand for an organized clean up.

Spark Joy with the "Letter of the Day"

Use the "Letter of the Day" to get creativity flowing. For example, on "S" day (whenever you choose that to be) create a solar system with Saturn, the stars, and spaceships all out of Play-Doh. Follow up with an age-appropriate book in the same theme. On space-themed days, I love reading the Ultimate Book of Space. This gorgeous pop-up book is as engaging as it is beautiful. It's full of space education and its interactive reading is adored by parents just as much as kids.

Bring Color to the Kitchen

If food restrictions aren't an issue in your family, food coloring is a great way to experiment with color mixing and to learn the color wheel. And what's better than edible art? This is so much fun with vanilla frosting. Separate one container of frosting into many little bowls. Play with the food coloring by dropping different proportions into the frosting. Have sugar cookies on hand to decorate once you get that perfect rainbow. And then head back to feet painting when the sugar high hits!

Create Your Museum of Art

Make sure all the art you have created gets hung up on the wall where it is visible to the kids. Seeing you hang up their work makes kids extra proud of their accomplishments. Your house becomes a home and encourages future art projects, too.

Pro tip: change your gallery every few months to keep it interesting and seasonal!

Sara Annapolen is a Westchester, New York-based artist and founder of Sara Joy, a resort wear collection created to awaken joy in motherhood. She is a mama of a 2- and 4-year-old who is always using art to stay sane and turned that passion into fashion with her namesake collection launch this year. Follow along her journey on Instagram @shopsarajoy.

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