These easy art and craft ideas are low mess and perfect for transitions points and downtime throughout the day.
Updated April 2023
When do you set up art activities for your kids?
When our kids were younger, we’d do them at various times of day. Mornings were always good for an art activity, but it’s also helpful to have something simple up your sleeve to do at transition times, such as after lunch or nap.
Once our kids entered school, we liked to have a simple activity set up for when they got home. It’s as much a chance to sit around the table together and talk as to create together. (We often save the more involved projects for weekends these days.)
The key is to keep things super simple and as mess-free as possible, so you’re more likely to do it!
Here are some easy art and craft activities for kids 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.)
Easy Art and Craft Ideas
1. Sticker art
This is such a fun way to “draw” pictures! Simply give your child a piece of paper and a variety of stickers and let them go. They’ll get right to it and have a blast sticking stickers on all over the paper. For older kids, you can use eye stickers for one of our favorite drawing prompts!
2. Shadow tracing art
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.
3. Easy Yarn Suncatchers
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.
4. Playdough play
Playdough is a great transition activity – it requires very little set up or clean up, and the possibilities with it are endless. And check out our post on how to set up a playdough play tray.
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. Building with Clay
For a simple and relatively mess-free clay experience, try Plastilina! It doesn’t dry out, so it can be used over and over again for so many fun sculpting projects.
7. Pipe Cleaners with Beads
It may seem simple but every kid we know LOVES to string beads on pipe cleaners! Whether they’re doing a random pattern or creating bracelets for friends, this will keep your kids occupied while you get dinner on the table. For older kids, you can try this simple stitching project.
8. Collage with paper shapes
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!
12. Washi tape art
Kids love tape! Let them make patterns and designs with it and see what they come up with. You can use smaller rolls of washi tape or larger masking tape, too.
13. Simply painting or drawing
If you want to keep things super simple, you can put out some paper and crayons, oil pastels, or a watercolor palette and let your kids create! Some of our favorite moments are sitting around the kitchen table simply drawing and painting with our kids.
If you want to make your life easier, keep an art caddy stocked with low mess art supplies in a place where your kids can access it. You’ll be amazed at the creating that can happen when kids have access to materials and some independence to create with!
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).
Want even more easy art ideas for kids? Our Art Invitations Mini E-Course will teach you how to set up an art invitation with a simple how-to video, plus an e-book with 40 simple art invitations and resource guide. This helpful mini course is $19.99 and comes with a bonus printable poster!
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