Updated February 2021
When do you set up art activities for your kids?
When mine were younger, I’d do them at various times of day. Mornings were always good for us, but I’d try to have something simple up my sleeve to do at transition times, such as after lunch or nap.
And when my kids entered school, I liked to have a simple art activity set up for when they got home. As much a chance to sit around the table together and talk as to create art. (We often save the more involved or multi-step art activities for weekends these days.)
Here are some simple art activities that work well for after school or other transition times.
These are low-key, low-mess activities that generally require a minimum of set-up, a minimum of adult involvement, and a minimum of clean-up.
(Of course, there’s always simply drawing or painting, which are obviously wonderful as well.)
Art Activities for Transitions
Shadow art is a super simple, yet highly engaging, art activity for kids. Set up in a sunny spot, trace a pattern of shadow and light on paper, and then paint it.
This twist on watercolor painting uses Q-tips instead of paintbrushes, and is one of our standby, super-easy-yet-interesting activities. Kids love making dots with paint, and then connecting them and seeing how the colors blend.
Yarn suncatchers are a simple fine motor skill activity that kids of all ages with enjoy! Create suncatchers by placing cut pieces of yarn onto contact paper. Younger kids will create abstract suncatchers; older children can create pictures with their yarn.
Playdough is a great transition activity – it requires very little set up or clean up, and the possibilities with it are endless. Here are more than 15 ideas, including making fantastical creatures, using poke-ins, trying playdough mats, forming letters, and pretend play.
5. DIY art activity pages (or printables, if you want something super simple)
Encourage kids’ creativity with DIY art activity pages. These can be created on the fly, using materials you already have, and customized to your child’s interests. And if you want something even easier, check out our list of printable art activities.
6. Contact paper suncatchers with colored tissue paper or nature items
We LOVE suncatchers! We actually have an entire page devoted to all of our suncatcher ideas. There are so many ways to make these, but contact paper framed by a paper plate is super easy. Feel free to use tissue paper, flowers, or leaves to stick on to make beautiful designs.
Try this easy oil pastel painting technique with kids. Combine the vibrant colors and smooth application of oil pastels with baby oil for a painting effect.
This super simple activity is always a winner with kids. Tear or cut shapes out of paper and glue onto poster board or cardstock for a colorful and creative design.
9. Toothpick sculptures (try it with grapes for a healthy snack!)
If you haven’t tried toothpick sculptures with your kids, definitely give it a try! It’s a construction project that kids of all ages (adults, too!) will love, and the possibilities for materials are endless.
10. Watercolor resist with crayons or oil pastels
This is a lovely and easy art process that we come back to again and again. Draw designs with crayons or oil pastels, paint over with watercolors, and see the crayon designs come through the paint!
11. Sticker art
This is such a fun way to “draw” pictures! Make a design with stickers and paint over with watercolors; when the paint is dry, remove the stickers for a silhouette of your image. For an extra starry effect, sprinkle salt on the wet watercolors!
12. Masking tape art (works great with washi tape, too!)
Kids love tape! Let them make patterns and designs with it and see what they come up with. You can use larger masking tape, or smaller rolls of washi tape.
This is a super easy kids art project with the added bonus of being quiet, low mess, and, of course, creative. Kids love an open-ended prompt, and you will be amazed at what they come up with in this hole art challenge!
So there you have it. 13 simple art activities for kids that are great for downtime and transitions between activities, times of day (mealtime, naptime), or locations (school, errands).
Plus, here’s a bonus one… If you have a spin art machine (we got ours on Amazon for about 10 bucks), spin drawing and spin painting can be remarkably calming and mesmerizing. My kids love both and often gravitate to the spin art machine after school.
More Easy Art Activities for Kids:
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