This year, many camps are closed and out of the house options for kids are limited. So, what can you do with your kids this summer to change things up? Creating art is one way to get your child thinking, moving, and doing in a different way than usual. Jump into the mess, but do it in the yard! Summer weather means that you can worry less about the mess, by using outdoor spaces.
Get a kit and try tie-dying. Let your kids dye their shirts, socks, sheets, and underwear. There are lots of kits, big and small. You can even use kool-aid for dying, as a non-toxic way for younger kids to help, too. At my house, we still have tons of the tiny rubber bands that were used in the bracelet craze a few years ago, those are going to be great for summer tie-dye experiments!
This is a messy craft that really needs adult supervision, so spend some time reading up on this craft and choose your kit carefully.
Let your kids experiment with flinging paint or dye at a sheet to create Jackson Pollock style art. This may sound like an overwhelming mess, but it is great for helping kids work on different muscles of the hands and arms! Use washable paint, as there will undoubtedly be some that go beyond your canvas. Before you start, be sure to show your child some of this art style and debate with them how hard it will be to create. In my experience, the layers of paint Pollock used take far longer to develop than most kids expect.
Sidewalk chalk is cheap and an easy way to create different kinds of art. Encourage your kids to make huge flowers, stars and hearts. If you live on a cul-de-sac, they may even be able to safely create on the street. Trying to make a huge spiral, path, or giant flower garden that fills the entire driveway is also fun. Chalk art also has the benefit of cleaning itself up so you can create again next week!
Chalk comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and working on a large scale like this builds arm muscles, not just fingers. If your child writes words or messages, their brain is going to be working in a whole different way to process these large letters- which is great! Bending and straightening, even sitting on the ground, all work different muscles too, so your child is building core strength. Double up on that by creating hopscotch boards or draw rivers to jump over and dots to hop onto.
Easels are Awesome
Set up art easels outside with paint and paper and encourage your kids to paint what they see. Landscapes, flowers or family members are all great topics for any age child to create. And working outside means you don’t have to worry so much about spills and splashes. Painting, drawing and even writing upright on an easel strengthens fingers, wrists and arms, so that your child will improve their motor skills and have better handwriting as a result. Even if your child’s actual art is pretty strange, the muscles use won’t be! So set them up and encourage them to keep painting!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.